Sugarcane Act IRR being finalized: Villar

June 29, 2015
The Visayan Daily Star (Gilbert Bayoran) |

The monitoring of the newly-approved Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA) continues, with its Implementing Rules and Regulations now being finalized by the Sugar Regulatory Administration, Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Foods, said yesterday.

Villar, in a press statement, assured Negrenses that she will closely monitor the SIDA, until it is fully implemented.

Republic Act 10659, or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, was enacted into law by President Benigno Aquino III in December 2014. It seeks to improve the country's sugar industry through the implementation of a productivity improvement program, farm support, research and infrastructure support, among others.

The government has allocated P2 billion annually for SIDA's implementation. Rep. Alfredo Benitez, who authored SIDA in the House of Representatives, said last week that the SRA recently met with the Department of Budget to discuss the funding requirements.

The law states that 50 percent of the fund given to SIDA will be allocated for infrastructure programs, Benitez said.

So, I think the way we map out all of the areas needed to be cemented or paved, have already been submitted to the SRA for validation, he added.

Villar, on the other hand, said the bulk of the P2 billion annual appropriation of SIDA will go to Negros Occidental as 60 percent of the country's sugarcane production is in the province, with the rest in Tarlac and Bukidnon.

She added that the appropriation was arrived at and became the major feature of the law as a product of her consultation with the industry stakeholders, who pinpointed which areas will benefit from the P2 billion fund.

Benitez also said that he will make sure that SIDA is properly implemented. “That is why we had a session with local government units,” he added.

The remaining 50 percent of SIDA fund is being earmarked to credit financing, research and scholarship programs, among others, Benitez said.

Meanwhile, Villar said the annual fund will already be included in the 2016 General Appropriations Act.

With the Sugarcane Law, farmers are expected to be more efficient and competitive in facing the challenge of the Asean Economic Integration, Villar added.*GPB