December 2, 2019
Vincent Mariel P. Galang (Business World) | https://bit.ly/37XFBE5
THE Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) is seeking a performance audit of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to ensure it is able to perform its mandate.
In Resolution No. 4, series of 2019-2020, CONFED made a request to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar “to order the conduct of a performance audit on the SRA, including an examination of its current organizational structure and capabilities.”
“Given the industry’s current challenges, it is timely to examine the effectiveness by which SRA performed its mandated functions and responsibilities with the end in view of determining what measures are needed for SRA to serve the industry better,” CONFED said in the resolution.
The government’s economic team is currently considering liberalizing sugar imports along the lines of a similar opening up of the rice industry, noting the need to make food processors more competitive. The sugar industry has since turned its fire on the SRA for allegedly failing to implement projects to make the sugar industry more efficient, citing the agency’s inability to fully spend funds set aside for the upgrade projects.
Executive Order No. 18, series of 1986 created the SRA, which is tasked to promote growth of the sugar industry through the involvement of the private sector and to improve the lives of industry workers.
The agency is also tasked to implement the programs under the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA).
CONFED is urging the SRA to form a Project Management Unit which will implement the programs of the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA), as well as to create a Sugar Industry Development Council (SIDC), which will come up with activities to enhance the growth of the sugar industry.
SIDA, or Republic Act 10659, promotes the competitiveness of the sugarcane industry by maximizing the use of sugarcane resources while improving the income of sugar farmers and workers through higher productivity, product diversification, job creation, and higher sugar mill efficiency.
The annual budget for SIDA is P2 billion starting 2016, but after underspending was discovered in 2016 the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reduced its funding to P1.5 billion in 2017, and to P500 million in 2018 and 2019.