SRA to lobby for P2-B SIDA fund

BACOLOD City – The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is keen on lobbying for the reinstatement of  the P2-billion annual budget intended for the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015.

SIDA’s funding was reduced to P500 million in 2019 but SRA board member Dino Yulo said they will keep lobbying for the original amount despite earlier pronouncements of Senator Cynthia Villar that the fund can no longer be reinstated.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on Agriculture, blamed the SRA for the under-spending of the SIDA budget, prompting the Department of Budget to reduce it.

But Yulo said they are still hoping the reinstatement of the P2-billion budget for next year.

“We just have to do our homework and lobby more,” he added.

Villar said that the SRA should show and prove to DBM that they can utilize the P2-billion budget every year.

The SIDA law sponsored by Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) in the House and co-sponsored by Villar in the Senate was enacted in 2015 with the goal of improving productivity and making the local sugarcane industry competitive against other sugar-producing countries.

Villar met with sugar bloc farmers and SIDA scholars at the Central Philippines State University in Brgy. Camingawan, Kabankalan City through Yulo on Friday.

Under the provisions of SIDA, five percent of P2 billion, or P100 million, was allocated to scholarship programs for beneficiaries of small sugar farmers who are taking agri-business related courses.

In CPSU alone, Yulo reported that there are 137 SIDA scholars receiving P10,000 in monthly stipends.

Now that education in state colleges and universities are free, Villar said that the P10,000 monthly allowances for tuition fees and other school-related payments, maybe used by government scholars for other purposes.

The SIDA allocated P300 million for bloc farming.