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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, July 5, 2012
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Albee sees sugarcane act
passage before Christmas

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) yesterday said he expects the House to approve the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2012, by Christmas.

Senator Francis Escudero has already filed the same version of the bill in the Senate, Benitez said.

The bill has been enjoying smooth sailing in Congress because consultation and research were done before its filing, Benitez said.

The House Committee on Agriculture and Food already approved House Bill 6113 or the sugarcane act, which was earlier passed on first reading.

When the House resumes sessions after President Benigno Aquino’s third State of the Nation Address on July 23, Benitez said he will push for the passage of HB 6113 that is now with the Committee on Ways and Means because of its tax provisions.

His sugarcane proposal is similar to the one passed to protect and boost the tobacco industry, Benitez said.

Benitez has been invited to speak about House Bill 6113 at the PHILSUTECH (Philippine Sugar Technologist Association Inc.) convention in Cebu on August 22.

The bill is geared towards revitalizing and strengthening the sugarcane industry through diversification, development and financing programs to cushion, if not counter, the possible destabilization effects of the tariff lifting on imported sugar entering the Philippines by 2015, Benitez said.

HB 6113 aims to establish a Sugarcane Industry Development Fund to be collected from the proceeds of the 15 percent of the value added tax on the sale and importation of refined sugar and sugarcane by-products, and the total tariff collected on the importation of raw, refined and premix sugar.

The proceeds will be remitted in full by the Department of Finance to a separate trust to be maintained by the Philippine Sugar Corp. to fund, among others, the establishment of special economic zones for the sugar industry and agro industrial districts.

The fund is also geared toward providing assistance to sugarcane farmers, planters and mills to boost production, efficiency and diversification; for research and development; for socio economic programs; and scholarships for students taking degrees relevant to the sugarcane industry.*CPG

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