Press Release
February 7, 2015

Villar: Sugar workers to benefit more from new Sugar Act

The Senate has adopted the reconciled version of the bill that will equip the local sugar industry with the necessary tools in order to compete with other Southeast Asian countries in time for the economic integration later this year.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said the Sugarcane Industry Development Act will make sure more assistance will be available for sugar workers to boost local sugar's competitiveness.

"We are now submitting this bill for President Aquino's signature. Once enacted into law, sugar workers will greatly benefit from the programs we included in the bill," Villar said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community will mean free trade and will cause tariffs to drop in imported goods, including sugar.

During the bicameral conference committee meeting held last December at the Senate, Villar was joined by Sen. JV Ejercito and Representatives Mark Llandro Mendoza, Alfredo Benitez, Pryde Henry Teves, Noel Villanueva, and Carol Jayne Lopez.

Under the reconciled version of Senate Bill 2400 and House Bill 4633, owners of farms with around nine hectares or less can avail of the Farm Support Program wherein they will be granted access to socialized credit through the Land Bank of the Philippines for the acquisition of production inputs, farm machineries, and implements necessary for the continuous production of sugar cane.

Another provision of the bill is the availability of a scholarship program for the underprivileged college and post graduate students who are taking up courses in agriculture, agricultural engineering and mechanics, chemical engineering/sugar technology in state colleges and universities as well as vocational courses for farmers and farm technicians and skilled workers in sugar mills, sugar refineries, distilleries and biomass power plants.

The new version replaces the proposed Sugarcane Industry Development Fund with a mandate to the Department of Budget and Management to include in the program of expenditures annually an amount of P2 billion, starting 2016, for the sugarcane industry and to be allocated as follows:

15% for the Block Farm Program; 15% for socialized credit; 15% for research and development, and capability building programs; 5% for scholarship grants; and 50% for infrastructure support programs

"The bill 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," Villar said.

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