DA’s Dar vows to review IRR, MOA of Sugarcane law
MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Thursday vowed to “review and strengthen” the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (Sida), noting that the programs and projects under it “has not moved.”
Dar also committed to review the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with government agencies and private sector on the implementation of the said law.
He pointed out that challenges the law face is the “slow implementation of programs and the slow utilization of Sida funds.”
“I affirm my personal commitment to personally oversee the necessary rebooting when it comes to how the law is implemented,” Dar said during a hearing on the Senate committee on agriculture and food.
“I have personally analyzed that the projects under the law has not moved. Hence, my first order of the day is now to review and strengthen the IRR as well as the MOA with partner government agencies and the private sector,” he added.
Senator Cynthia Villar, who heads the said Senate panel, initiated the hearing after expressing dismay over the reported failure of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to fully implement Sida, which resulted in the reduction of its budget from P2 billion in 2016 to only P500 million in 2019.
Villar cited underspending as reason behind the reduction of the SRA’s budget. If left uncorrected, Villar said, the underspending will result in a budget of only P67 million by 2020.
“Nakakalungkot dahil napakaraming pwedeng paggamitan ng pondo para matulungan ang mga sugar industry players, lalo na ang mga maliliit na magsasaka. Bakit nagkaroon ng underspending?” Villar said in a statement.
“The law, as crafted, not only focuses on increasing and improving the yield, we also included programs that will develop the skills of the workers and their dependents through training and capacity-building activities,” she added.
Under the law, P2 billion will be given yearly to the sugar industry to be spent as follows: a) 15 percent or P300 million for block farm grants; b) 15 percent for research and development, capability building and technology transfer; c) 15 percent for socialized credits to be implemented by Land Bank for farm support and mechanization; d) 5 percent or P100 million for scholarship grants and human resources development programs; and e) 50 percent or P1 billion for infrastructure development programs for farm to mill roads, irrigation and transport infrastructure. /jpv
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