BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture Technical Working Group will have a blended meeting today with sugar industry stakeholders in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
The TWG, that is chaired by Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), is expected to discuss proposed amendments to the Sugar Industry Development Act, which annual budget had been slashed from P2 billion to P500 million annually.
The amendments aim to insulate the domestic sugar market from undue saturation of imported sugar in order to stabilize prices and to foster competition among local sugar producers.
The SIDA of 2015, or Republic Act 10659, was authored by former Rep. Alfredo Benitez, the elder brother of the incumbent congressman.
House Bill 2971 seeks to amend Section 11 of RA 10659 to ensure a proportionate allocation of the SIDA funds based on productivity and the strengthening of the supervisory powers of the Sugar Regulatory Administration on the importation of sugar. The SIDA requires the annual allocation of P2 billion for the sugar industry – 15 percent for block farm grants, 15 percent for research and development, capability building and technology transfer, 15 percent for socialized credits for farm support and mechanization, 5 percent for scholarship grants and human resources development programs, and 50 percent for infrastructure development programs for farm to mill roads, irrigation and transport infrastructure.*