Escudero confirms meeting with Benitez on Sugarcane Bill-A A +A
Thursday, September 13, 2012
SENATOR Francis Escudero confirmed meeting with Representative Albee Benitez (3rd district, Negros Occidental) about simplifying the Sugarcane Bill.
Escudero said the Sugarcane Bill, which he authored at the Senate, is now being finalized at the Committee on Agriculture chaired by Senator Francis Pangilinan.
Benitez is the main author of House Bill 6113 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2012.
"Benitez and I met last week to simplify the proposed bill to make sure that our local producers would be competitive and we can also improve the system in the sugar industry," Escudero said in an interview with Vic Marcado's Mercado Publiko Program.
Escudero has been pushing government to also infuse funds to the sugar industry like the support that the government has been giving to the tobacco industry. The funds could be released by the government either through subsidy or credit to make it competitive.
Benitez filed the bill geared toward revitalizing and strengthening the industry through diversification, development and financing program.
The lawmaker said he came up with the proposed “Sugarcane Bill” to cushion the destabilizing effects of the tariff-lifting on imported sugar entering the Philippines by 2015.
Benitez said that sugarcane production should not only involve raw and refined sugar but also its byproducts, such as bagasse, molasses and filter mud that shall be identified, developed, promoted and implemented starting 2013.
He proposed the bill after the different sugar federations came up with their recommendations about the sugar industry. These proposals were then consolidated by the Sugar Regulatory Administration and submitted to Benitez.
The proposed bill also covers the establishment of the Sugarcane Industry Development Fund that will be taken from the value added tax (VAT) on sugar importation of refined sugar and its byproducts for the establishment of Special Economic Zones.
The funds will also be used as assistance to sugarcane farmers, planters and mills for better production.
Most of the sugarcane farmers in the province are beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) who will be greatly benefitted by the bill, according to the lawmaker.
Benitez's bill also aims to elevate the sugarcane industry from merely producing sugar to the production of power, fuel and other possible biochemical products and as a means for waste disposal.
Benitez’s bill has already hurdled two committees at the House of Representatives.
Both Benitez and Escudero are looking forward for the passage of the law before this year ends. (TDE)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 13, 2012.