The Sugarcane Industry Development Act fund will be further slashed next year—from the original P2 billion annual budget down to only P67 million.
For this year, SIDA’s allocation was at P500 million.
The Department of Budget and Management said the budget cut was due to underutilization or underspending.
SIDA was created to boost the production of sugarcane and sugar as well as increase the income of sugarcane farmers or planters and farm workers, for which the law provides the allocation of P2 billion a year.
Of the P2 billion annual fund of SIDA, some P1 billion should go to infrastructure for farm-to-mill roads; P300 million for credit; P100 million for scholarships; P300 million for block farms of agrarian reform beneficiaries; and P300 million for shared facilities program.
“We have been often told that the only way for our sugar industry to be globally competitive is to improve our productivity for which the SIDA law was created so that we can mechanize, have technical and financial assistance and more,” Confederation of Sugar Producers spokesperson Raymond Montinola said.
Montinola said underutilization of the fund has been the constant excuse to slash the budget “but the industry has very little to do with it.”
“We have continuously urged to revisit the law, especially the implementing rules and guidelines which has been very constricting for the sugar producers to access, particularly the small planters and our agrarian reform beneficiaries which comprise over 85 percent of sugar producers, yet none has been made,” Montinola said.