government’s P89 billion farm budget for 2015 must be exempt from
underspending, Sen. Chiz Escudero said, as he called for more investments to
boost the agriculture sector and increase the household income of farmers.
who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance made the call when he met over the
weekend with farmer leaders on the sidelines of the T’nalak Festival in South
Cotabato, one of the country’s agricultural powerhouses.
heads are better than one, or make that two carabaos pulling one plow are
better than one, so I can’t imagine why there can be slackening in the
implementation of our farm programs, “ Escudero said.
was referring to Proceso Alcala, secretary of Agriculture, and Francis
Pangilinan, presidential assistant for Food Security and Agriculture
Modernization, which is a Cabinet rank designation.
2015, the DA offices under Alcala have a budget of P51.7 billion while the four
agencies in Pangilinan’s turf – the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine
Coconut Authority (PCA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and Fertilizer
and Pesticide Authority (FPA) – have a combined allocation of P37.3 billion.
the country‘s food import now climbing to almost P300 billion a year and with
36 percent of families considering themselves as “food poor,” funding to boost
food production must be released without delay, Escudero said.
major programs this year are the following: P22.3 billion worth of irrigation
projects to cover 54,954 hectares; P15.2 billion for various farm-to-market
roads; P1.3 billion in assorted fishery infrastructure; P4.2 billion for farm
mechanization; P7 billion in support activities to boost rice production; and
P4.1 billion to increase coconut production.
completing these, plus the important aim of raising farming household income by
up to four (4) percent this year, is contingent on the quick and timely release
of funds, Escudero said.
yan matutupad kung may artificial drought of funds,“ Escudero said.
lawmaker cited the case of cassava farming, which may not be able to achieve
its full potential and target of 13 tons of produce per hectare every year if
there is always a delay in the release of some P2.1 billion in available funds
for high-value crops.
described the agriculture budget “as something of a good conditional cash
transfer” to the sector which, despite making up 12 percent of the GDP, hosts
the most number of poor people.
to official statistics, poverty incidence among fishermen is the highest among
nine surveyed sectors at 41.4 percent, followed by farmers at 36.7 percent.
in three employed Filipinos are in the agriculture, or about 12 million as of
said he will soon ask his counterparts in the House of Representatives to
convene the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures to
look into the spending trends of agriculture agencies.
natin ang absorptive capacity, ang status ng mga projects nila. Mahalaga ang
agrikutura kasi ang investment mo doon mabilis ang balik. Magbigay ka ng pondo,
may sukli kaagad na pagkain, “ Escudero said.
announced the mid-year review as the national government spent P78 billion
short of its P582.2 billion spending program in the first quarter.
year, underspending reached P303 billion, or 13 percent of the total
appropriations for 2014.
2011, the expenditure program was set at P1.711 trillion, but actual spending
was P1.557 trillion, or an underspending of P154 billion.
tapered down in 2012 to P62 billion based on actual disbursements of P1.778
trillion against a budget of P1.84 trillion.
of the P1.984 trillion budget in 2013, only P1.88 trillion was utilized,
resulting to an underspending of P104 billion. /MP