ABANG Lingkod Party-list Representative Stephen Paduano said the proposal to create a National Sugar Program needs further study.
The proposal was revealed by Senator Cynthia Villar during her recent visit to the province amid the underutilization of the P2-billion Sugar Fund under the Sugar Industry Development Act.
Villar pointed out the failure of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to handle the sugar fund under its developmental program.
Paduano, for his part, said he has nothing against the proposal however the performance of the SRA should be thoroughly assessed first.
“What are the things done by the SRA? We should assess first because when we create another office and the Implementing Rules and Regulation comes out, conflicts may surface,” Paduano said.
He recalled that although he has been fair to everyone at the SRA but the passage of Sugar Order No. 5 that allowed the importation of 250,000 metric tons at the onset of the milling season has hurt the sugar farmers because farm gate prices of locally produced sugar drastically went down.
Paduano pointed out that SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica was the only one who voted against the passage of that sugar order. The bulk of that imported sugar was supposed to be earmarked for Industrial users who have been complaining of high price of locally produced sugar.
Meanwhile Paduano said he has been consistently fighting for a share of the sugar industry from the incremental collections from the Excise Tax on sweetened beverages under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train Law).
He added that the sugar industry should be given at least ten to 20 percent share from the incremental collection especially the portion that is derived from the high fructose corn syrup.
The fund he said could be used for mechanization and competitiveness of the sugar industry. (TDE)