Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) yesterday said he will file his Sugar Act bill next week and that he hopes it is passed into law by both houses of Congress soon.
Benitez, who joined the 14th Tinabu-ay Festival in Murcia town yesterday, said he has presented the bill to the different stakeholders of the industry, including the Sugar Regulatory Administration, to get inputs.
“We have sent the copy of the proposed bill to sugar associations and the SRA for them to take a look at it so that they can suggest on it. If we have to move faster, there has to be unity in what we want to do,” he said.
But he assured that even after the bill is filed there is enough room to further amend and refine it while being deliberated on in Congress.
The bill is designed to cushion the impact of sugar trade liberalization in the country in 2015 when tariffs on imports are lifted.
Benitez said he will try to convince his colleagues in the Lower House and in the Senate to expedite the passage of the bill.
Once he establishes that the bill is really beneficial to the industry, Benitez said “I think it will not take a long discussion at both Houses.”
There are different suggestions and proposals from the various sugar associations, he said, “but at the end of the day we have to come up with a unified stand for us to make sure that the bill will push through.”
“We need to look at the bill based on what is happening now,” he said.
“The price of sugar is low, do we want to speculate that it will get better or do we want to ensure better safeguards so that it will not go wrong from where we stand?” he asked.
“I think, we need to be sure that at the end of the day, the safeguards are there. We should not slip into a situation where even the planters could hardly afford to plant anymore and millers could no longer afford to mill,” Benitez said.*CPG