THE Confederation of Sugar Producers Association or Confed condemned the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) relative to the Sugar Industry Development Act (Sida) fund.
The country’s biggest sugar planters group accused the DBM of not fully understanding the implication of the huge slash in the Sida fund will do to an already embattled sugar industry.
In a statement, Raymund Montinola, president of Confed said, “We have been often told that the only way for our sugar industry to be globally competitive is to improve our productivity for which the Sugar InDA law was created so that we can mechanize, have technical and financial assistance and more.”
“This drastic cut, which is not even five percent of the original allotment as enshrined in the SIDA, makes a mockery of the law and of the sugar industry. We have continuously urged to revisit the law, especially the implementing rules and guidelines which has been very constricting for the sugar producers to access, particularly the small planters and our agrarian reform beneficiaries which comprise over 85 percent of sugar producers, yet none has been made,” Montinola said.
Herminigildo Serafica, sugar regulatory administrator, said the DBM has slashed the P2 billion sugar fund to just P67 million.
It is short by P1.93 billion from what is mandated by the Sida Law.
“Underutilization of the fund has been their constant excuse to slash the budget but the industry has very little to do with it. Reporting from national agencies to which the funds were downloaded for program implementations have been remiss of their obligation,” Montinola said.
He added that when it comes to financing,” requirements and approval from LandBank has been an uphill battle and yet, they took it as a failure of the industry to access such funds.”
“Personally, except for the market to farm roads, I have not felt the SIDA law at all but we will not lose hope and will work for the reconstitution of the entire amount that has been appropriated for the modernization of the sugar industry,” he said.
Lawyer Emilo Yulo, representative of the sugar planters to the SRA Board, said “I have not received any definite confirmation as to the said report as I am not privy to such information. However, if indeed it is true it is a tragedy for the industry.”
“If true it will be a calamity for the industry,” Yulo said.