SRA exec remains optimistic with Sugarcane Act sans budget

SUGAR Regulatory Administrator Anna Rosario Paner remained optimistic that the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (Sida) will be in “full swing” by 2017 despite the lack of budget.

Paner, who met with Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. at the Provincial Capitol Friday, said that they will help lobby for funds “to maximize what we can get out of Sida.”

She said that she was aware that the P2 billion sugarcane industry fund for next year was slashed.

Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, author of the act, earlier said that only P1.4 billion was allocated for Sida next year, which is short of P600 million from the P2 billion mandated appropriation.

Paner said it is understandable since Sida is “fairly a new law. It was only passed in 2015.”

She pointed out that there’s a “learning curve” in the implementation stage, as she noted there’s a lot of technical working group and committees.

“We can’t just implement anything we want without having to coordinate with all these agencies,” she said.

She said it will take some time, as she noted there’s a need for coordination to make sure the funds are disburse on time and that the projects are identified properly.

The annual P2 billion mandated appropriation from the national government is intended for the various projects of the sugar industry including infrastructure (50 percent), block farming (15 percent), socialized credit (15 percent), farm mechanization (15 percent) and scholarship program and research (5 percent).

Moreover, Paner said they will continue to push for block farming as it is a “good system” for farm management.

Meanwhile, she said it was her first time to meet Marañon after she assumed office last month.

She said: “I want to assure the governor that SRA is here to help the industry. We want to send a strong message to the industry that we want to work with all the stakeholders. We feel strongly that the provincial government of Negros Occidental is one of the major stakeholders.”
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