Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Paduano yesterday expressed his dismay that the sugar industry has not received a single centavo from the P68.4 billion collected by the national government in 2018, as a result of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion ( TRAIN) law.
Of the P68.4 billion collections, 51.7 percent, which is equivalent to P37 billion, was generated from sugar sweetened beverage taxes, Paduano said.
Thirty percent of the tax collected from the TRAIN law goes to services, supposedly to include the sugar industry. Why zero budget for the industry? It’s illogical, he said.
After the discovery was made during the Ways and Means committee hearing at the House of Representatives, Paduano said a representative of the Department of Budget and Management made a commitment to raise it to their top officials.
Hopefully, they will do it, Paduano also said.
The House version of the TRAIN law pushed for the allocation of the 15 percent collection of taxes generated from SSB (sugar sweetened beverages) to the sugar industry. However, it was not included in the provisions of the TRAIN law after it was approved in 2017.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration was earlier berated by Senator Cynthia Villar for the underspending of the SIDA (Sugarcane Industry Development Act) budget, which is P2 billion annually. Under the proposed 2020 budget, it is now down to P500 million due to underutilization, Villar said.
Paduano, who was among the co-authors of the SIDA law, said that the alleged incompetency of SRA should not be cited as among the reasons for the reduction of the sugar industry budget, stressing that farm-to-mill road projects are not being implemented by SRA but by the Department of Public Works and Highway.
Paduano said, 50 percent of the P2 billion annual budget of SIDA is being allocated for farm-to-mill roads.
As suggested by SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, Paduano said that in the implementation of farm to mill road projects, the memorandum of agreement should not be between SRA and DPWH central office.
Instead, it should be between SRA and the DPWH district engineering office to speed up the implementation of farm to mill road projects, Paduano, who is also among the 24 solons opposing the liberalization of sugar imports, said.
SRA Board member for the planters’ side, Dino Yulo, said he would move for a resolution that would formally oppose the call of the Department of Finance to remove quantitative restrictions on sugar imports.
Yulo said the industry would also block all moves to pass regulations to liberalize the industry in both chambers of Congress.*
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