Confed urge government to review SIDA cut
Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, Inc. (CONFED), the biggest group of sugar producers in the Philippines, is urging the country’s lawmakers to review their decision to bring down the annual budget for the implementation of Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA) from P2 billion to P500 million.
CONFED Chair Nicholas Ledesma said as per their records, the budget cut should not have happened because SIDA utilization reached P1.2 billion last year, majority of which went to infrastructure and scholarships.
Citing a data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA), he said that of all the provision in the SIDA, only the funds for socialized credit has been underutilized because of the stringent process involved in availing such which practically makes it difficult for small farmers to access.
“With the recent abolition of Philsucor [Philippine Sugar Corp.], we are pressed to appeal that socialized credit availability must be made more simpler for small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries that comprise almost 90 percent of sugar producers and for whom the SIDA law was intended to make the sugar industry more competitive,” Ledesma said.
“The budget cut will have a drastic effect on the industry’s tract to hasten mechanization as a priority for this year as well,” he added.
CONFED then urge that the budget for research and development must be kept intact as this is necessary for the industry’s sustainability.
The group likewise appealed to SRA to be more aggressive in program implementations and to create a desk that will solely work on SIDA and how to make this more accessible to industry stakeholders.