Villar scolds SRA execs for underspent budget
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar on Thursday berated officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for its reported inability to spend the funds allocated to implement programs and advance the sugar industry under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (Sida).
Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food, asked the SRA the amount of money they spent in 2016 to trace the reason why the Department of Budget cut the sugar agency’s budget for the past years.
Under the Sida, the SRA was allotted P2 billion in 2016 to provide assistance to sugarcane farmers.
She noted that the SRA’s budget was cut to P1.5 billion in 2017, P1 billion in 2018, and only P500 million in 2019.
“Palagi kong sinasabi sa inyo noon, don’t ever underspend because the DBM [Department of Budget Management] will cut your budget because sasabihin nila, hindi nyo siguro kailangan ng pera kaya cut nang cut yan kaya every year cinut ang budget nyo na ngayon ay P500 million na lang,” Villar asked SRA during the Senate panel hearing.
SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica revealed during the hearing that in 2016, SRA only spent P914 million for infrastructure projects, P85 million for block farms, P48 million for socialized credit and around P90 million on scholarships.
The senator further chided the SRA for not being able to utilize all its funds.
“Kaya kayo cinut ng P1.5 billion. You were only able to implement P1 billion in 2016, so cinut kayo ng DBM,” Villar said.
“Sana kung hindi niyo kayang gawin, sinabi nyo sa amin, para nag-meeting tayo on how it will be better implemented,” she said.
Villar earlier expressed dismay over the reported failure of SRA to fully implement the Sugarcane law.
“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?” she said. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.