November 6, 2018
Visayan Daily Star (Gilbert P. Bayoran) | https://goo.gl/B7EnhD
The P2 billion annual allocation for the Sugar Industry Development Act has been trimmed down by P500 million for next year, Senator Cynthia Villar said yesterday.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, blamed the budget cuts on underspending or under-utilization.
The Department of Budget and Management reduced the SIDA funds allocation because it believes that the agencies involved in the utilization of financial allocations had no capacity to fully spend it, Villar, who attended the Pintaflores Festival in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, yesterday said.
Sugar Regulatory Board Member Emilio Yulo III, who accompanied Villar, explained that the funds intended for use in socialized credit program were not utilized, and that led to cut in SIDA annual allocations.
Yulo also cited some constraints in the socialized credit program that need to pass the rules and regulations of the Commission on Audit.
Villar stressed the need to study thoroughly the utilization of funds, to avoid their being reduced again.
SIDA, that was authored by Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District), co-authored by Villar, and co-sponsored by Senator JV Ejercito in the Senate, was passed into law, to boost the production of sugarcane and sugar, and increase the income of sugarcane farmers/planters and farm workers.
The law provides the allocation of P2 billion annually.
“I always told them to study how to fully utilize the fund because if you don't, it will be lowered by the DBM every year,” she said.
Of the P2 billion annual SIDA fund, P1 billion has been earmarked for infrastructure projects, such as farm-to-mill roads, P300 million for credit, P100 million for scholarship, P300 million for block farms, and P300 million for shared facilities program.
Villar also revealed that the funds intended for credit are still with the Land Bank of the Philippines, and have not been utilized.