A TRUST FUND BILL FOR COCONUT
FARMERS NEARS APPROVAL INTO LAW
The Committee on Food and Agriculture in the House of Representatives approved on June 10 the bill that aims to create a trust fund for the benefit of small coconut farmers and farm workers who shoulder coconut levy collected during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The “Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act of 2015” is a consolidation of six (6) bills which all proposes how the coconut levy should be utilized.
“I am happy that we (legislators) are done now with the series of technical working group discussions. The substitute bill now proposes a better trust fund as it will be used exclusively for the ultimate benefit of coconut farmers and farm workers as embodied in the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan,” AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin said.
If the bill would be a law, a Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Committee will be created to be attached to the Office of the President to administer the fund. The Council shall be composed of the Secretary of Agriculture as Chairman, the Secretary of Finance as Vice Chair, and Secretary of Trade and Industry, Secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Director General of National Economic Development Authority, and Administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) as members from the government side.
Six (6) representatives from the coconut farmers’ sector shall be appointed by the President from the list of nominees submitted by the PCA and shall each hold a term of three (3) years and may be reappointed only once.
The committee shall also be the implementor of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan according to the bill.
The measure also states that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) shall conduct a complete accounting and inventory of the Coconut Levy Assets as well as the investments, disbursements, and expenditures relating to the Coconut Levy Funds.
To ensure transparency, the Commission on Audit shall submit to the Committee its audit report, which shall include a complete list of Coconut Levy Assets and their valuation, and the empirical basis and the methodologies employed for the said valuation.
COA shall also conduct an audit on the correctness of the processes done by the PCGGs.
The Trust Fund shall be deposited in the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) which shall transfer the Trust Fund in the manner provided by the Committee and shall perform such duties as may be determined by the Committee.
The substitute bill will be turned over to the House’s Committee on Appropriations then it will be deliberated on the plenary for the second reading. /MP