ABANG Lingkod Partylist Representative Stephen Paduno is fighting for the share of the sugar industry from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law which is pegged at P3.7 billion every year.
Paduano said he is pushing for the sugar industry share after he discovered that in 2018 and 2019, the sugar industry did not receive any share from the government revenues from the Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB) in a hearing conducted by the Committee on Ways and Means.
He pointed out that under the Train law, 15 percent of the incremental revenue from SSB should directly go to the sugar farmers.
It could go to the modernization program of the sugar industry, he said.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Paduano said, has already pledged to work out the fund for the sugar industry in the 2020 budget.
The incremental revenue share of the sugar industry is different from the existing Sugar Industry Development Fund which is P2 billion every year.
During the said hearing, Albay Representative Joey Salceda asked the DBM to make “institutional amendments” in the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA).
He made the move after he felt disappointed that the country’s 62,000 sugar farmers have not benefited from the taxes collected from companies selling SSB.
“We will be losing our moral ascendancy of imposing any further taxes if it doesn’t go to the intended beneficiaries,” Salceda out.
Salceda explained that the DBM can suggest changes “in any point and time” in the proposed budget.
During the hearing, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Marilyn Pagayunan admitted that they lack the capability to determine if the companies use high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
“For determining if it is a high-fructose corn syrup, there is a need for FDA to purchase or procure an equipment, like ID detector with the higher performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). We are trying to determine those manufacturers who are lying,” she said.
Salceda said because of the ineffective implementation of the Train Law, the government only collected P38 billion instead of the projected P52 billion.