Lawmaker: Senate seen to pass Sugarcane Bill next week

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Saturday, August 9, 2014


NEGROS Occidental third district Representative Alfredo Benitez said he is hopeful for the passage of the Sugarcane Bill at the Senate next week as Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the committee on agriculture, is expected to submit the proposed measure before the plenary by then.

The House of Representatives approved early this week its version of the Sugarcane Bill authored by Benitez.

The Negrense lawmaker, however, said both houses are seen to have different versions of the bill, so these will have to go through the bicameral committee before the final version is submitted to the Office of the President for signing into law.

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"We expect that it becomes a law before the year ends," Benitez said.

House Bill 4633 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act authored by Benitez seeks to provide the sugar industry protection against the impact of the lowering of the tariffs on imported sugar by 2015 as provided by the Free Trade Area-Common Effective Preferential Tariff Scheme.

The bill specifically provides for the industry-wide development of the sugarcane industry including diversification, research, and provision of necessary infrastructures to sugar-producing areas.

House Bill 4633 also allows the creation of Special Economic Zones for the sugarcane industry and the creation of the Sugarcane Industry Development Fund.

Meanwhile, Benitez also revealed that legislators who belong to the Visayas bloc are set to meet on August 13 to concretize their move to push for more funds to be allocated in the Visayas in the 2015 national budget.

"We should be getting at least 20 percent of the total budget nationwide," Benitez said.

Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, received the lowest share of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) at P14.95 million, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report.

In another development, Benitez said the proposed term extension for President Benigno Aquino III needs Charter Change because there is a constitutional prohibition for such act.

Benitez explained that the suggestion for Aquino's term extension emanated from Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II because of his belief that the reform agenda of President Aquino needs more time.

"It's more of a wish of Secretary Roxas. There is a constitutional prohibition. We should really address it if we are going to change the constitution. Many are advocating to change the Constitution especially on economic provisions," he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 09, 2014.

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