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Senate panel okays proposed cash aid for small farmers

  BY VANNE ELAINE TERRAZOLA     The Senate agriculture committee approved on Friday the proposal that would allow the government to disburse its excess tariff collections from rice imports as cash assistance to small farmers. Senate Joint Resolution No. 12 seeks to authorize the use of excess collections by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) under […].....»»

Category: newsSource: tempo tempoOct 16th, 2020

Rice farmers seek bigger financial aid

The one-time financial assistance that the Senate directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide to rice farmers amid the declining prices of palay would not be enough, a group of rice farmers said. (MB file, Keith Bacongco) Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) National Manager Raul Montemayor said rice farmers have lost an average of P10,000 per hectare in the ongoing cropping season due to severely depressed palay prices.   This was his response to the joint resolution recently passed by the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, which ordered the DA to appropriate some P3 billion in tariffs from rice imports through the 2021 national budget for cash aid to rice farmers. Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which allowed unlimited rice importation in the Philippines, tariff collections in excess of P10 billion per year can be used for additional support to farmers, including cash transfers. FFF, however, noted that the proposed appropriation would only provide P5,000 per farmer if distributed to some 600,000 farmers tilling one hectare or less.   If the actual number of qualified farmers is raised to 1.1 million, the subsidy would only amount to about P2,700 per farmer. Either proposal will be unfair to equally affected rice farmers tilling larger areas, the farmers’ group said.   Instead, Montemayor said the government could keep palay prices stable by temporarily imposing safeguard duties or additional tariffs on imported rice. “The government allowed unlimited rice imports, resulting in low palay prices.  Now, it will spend P3 billion to partially offset farmers’ losses. If it had instead imposed additional duties on imports, palay prices would not have dropped too much, there would have been no need for cash aid to farmers, and the government might have even earned extra revenues from the safeguard duties,” said Montemayor. Under the Section 10 of RTL or Republic Act (RA) 11203, in order to protect the Philippine rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations, a special safeguard duty on rice shall be imposed in accordance with Safeguard Measures Act.   R.A. 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act, on the other hand, allows additional safeguard duties on top of regular tariffs in case an import surge is shown to be harmful to local farmers.   “Safeguard duties will not be inflationary as claimed by the DA, because they will be applied only when there is already a proven oversupply in the market.  They can be removed once the situation stabilizes,” said Montemayor. Agriculture Secretary William Dar is not keen on slapping additional tariff on rice imports, and has repeatedly appealed for public understanding about the “short-term” effects of RTL to palay prices. However, he promised to look for other solutions to the plea of the farmers like asking the National Food Authority (NFA), which buys palay at P19 per kilogram (/kg) to boost the government’s buffer stock, to intensify its palay procurement.   Instead of cash aid, the FFF proposed that existing funds from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and extra tariff collections be re-focused to address current problems of farmers.   It noted that half of farmers receiving free seeds under the RCEF had already been using certified seeds in the past, and that many were seeking other types of support that were not available under RCEF.   Numerous farmers have also questioned the DA’s promotion of seed varieties like NSIC Rc222, which is of poor quality and are being shunned by traders. “Also, the P5 billion annual fund for mechanization is not moving well, and it might be more practical at this time to preserve job opportunities for farm laborers instead of displacing them with machines,” Montemayor said.   “Moreover, the P1 billion budget for extension and training could be realigned, considering that farmers cannot attend training activities due to COVID-related restrictions. The P1 billion for credit could be better used for interest rate subsidies or loan guarantee programs, instead of direct loans which will benefit only 20,000 farmers,” he added......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

Coconut farmers are poorest agri people

Coconut farmers are now the poorest people in the agriculture sector, much poorer than when they were 30 years ago.  This was the assessment of Danny Carranza, a coconut farmer and member the Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan). (MB FILE, Keith Bacongco) Carranza blamed the coconut farmers’ poverty on the low copra prices, inability to intercrop and modernize, and now the COVID-19 pandemic, which isolates some of them who are living in far-flung areas.                “If you’re going to compare, we are much poorer now than we were back in 1990,” said Carranza. Carranza said the “crisis in coconut” that started in the 1990s was never resolved, but even worsened especially when farmers failed to diversify and intercrop before copra prices, dictated by world prices, crashed in 2019 and in the previous years.              “The price of copra is improving, reaching P16/kg from P8/kg last year, but that is still not enough,” Carranza said, adding that farmers’ income from a hectare of coconut plantation does not reach P10,000 anymore.            At present, about 95 percent of the 3.5 million hectares of coconut farms in the Philippines are meant to produce copra, which is the material for coconut oil manufacturing.  But with the collapse of the prices of coconut oil in the world market over the last two years, prices of copra have also dropped plunging farmers into deeper poverty. According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), prices of copra at farmgate as of October 15 stood at P21.86/kg, which is higher compared to P14.55/kg price level during the same day last year.           But Carranza said that it normally takes three to four years for coconut farmers to recover when a typhoon hits their plantation because coconut trees don’t recover fast. Several typhoons have devastated coconut trees lately.  “Farmers’ income is dictated by world prices, they don’t have enough funds to modernize their industry, and the government has failed to support them in the diversification of their coconut plantations,” Carranza said.  “Then things got worse because of climate change. And then, because of lockdown, a lot of farmers who live in far-flung areas were isolated and couldn’t deliver their produce,” he added.   In 2018, farmers working in coconut farms only received a daily nominal wage rate of P264, based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data.   To alleviate the current situation of coconut farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced that it will soon distribute a P5,000 worth of assistance to coconut farmers, which will be withdrawn from the agency’s P24-billion stimulus package granted under ‘Bayanihan 2’. The problem, according to Carranza, is that the assistance may only benefit farmers who own 1 hectare of coconut plantations or less. The PCA is also setting aside a portion of its budget to finance on-farm and off-farm livelihood projects for coconut farmers such as intercropping and livestock. Meanwhile, Pambansang Kilusan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (PKMP) Chairman Eduardo Mora said the legal team of Senator Bong Go pledged to help coconut farmers push for provisions that they want to be included in the Coco Levy Act, the proposed law that will pave the way for the release of the P100-billion coco levy fund.           “It was the office of Senator Bong Go that informed us that the senate version of Coco Levy Act was already passed in third and final reading. But his legal team also assured to help us in the congress version of the law, in bicameral, and in the drafting of the IRR [implementing rules and regulation] of the law,” Mora told Business Bulletin.         Mora’s group, which represents more than a hundred thousand coconut farmers in the country, has been calling for increased farmers’ representation in the planned coconut trust fund management committee.         Coconut farmers also don’t want the funds to be handled by PCA, Mora said.         Business Bulletin already sought for Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s reaction regarding the farmers’ opposition of the Coco Levy Act, but he hasn’t responded yet. .....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020

House panel defends & rsquo;errata& rsquo;

The House of Representatives' small committee's institutional amendments amounting to P20-billion in the proposed 2021 national government budget were “well-meaning and should not be a cause of conflict between the two houses of Congress.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2020

Roque to Congress: Consult Palace on increasing budget for vaccines

Any congressional move to raise the proposed 2021 budget for the coronavirus vaccine should at least be done in consultation with the Executive branch, according to a Palace official.  Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (RESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said while they respect Congress’ wisdom to hike the vaccine budget for the next year, the issue on its funding source must also be addressed. “The power of purse is vested in Congress. We will bow to the wisdom of Congress should they deem it fit to increase the budget for the vaccine, and of course, may pagkukuhanan po iyan (there will be a funding source for that),” he said during a Palace press briefing Thursday. “So we hope that Congress will at least confer with the Executive kung saan nila kukunin iyong pondo para itaas ang budget for the vaccine (on where the funds will be obtained to raise the budget for the vaccine),” he added. Nonetheless, Roque affirmed the administration’s resolve to ensure the country has adequate funds for the vaccine procurement once the life-saving drug becomes available.“We join Congress in our desire that we should have sufficient funds to pay for the vaccine, which according po to (Philippine) Ambassador (to China) Chito (Sta. Romana) is really forthcoming in the near future,” he said.The House of Representatives has reportedly introduced several amendments to its approved 2021 national budget, including a higher budget for the purchase of COVID vaccines to P8 billion.  In the original Palace-backed P4.5 trillion national budget proposal, at least P2.5 billion has been allocated for the COVID-19 vaccination program under the Department of Health’s budget. House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, who leads a small group in charge of amendments to the budget bill, said the additional P5.5 billion to augment the vaccine budget aims to ensure safe and effective vaccine will be available to Filipinos. “This is to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s program to strengthen the country’s health care system. We believe that vaccines play a very crucial role in keeping the population safe and healthy from the pandemic,” the Leyte lawmaker said.  On the part of the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson disclosed plans to increase funding for the coronavirus vaccine under the proposed 2021 national budget. Last week, the President said the government has the funds to buy the coronavirus vaccine once it is available but would need more money to vaccinate all Filipinos. Duterte earlier vowed to give priority to the poor, the police and military personnel in the distribution of free vaccines.  He said the country will buy the most affordable vaccine to be sold in the market given the government’s limited resources. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2020

Lacson frowns at ‘pork hunter’ tag

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, a staunch anti-pork barrel advocate, does not like the name ‘’pork hunter’’ ascribed to him. Senator Panfilo M. Lacson (SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) ‘’I don’t like it. I’m just doing my job,’’ Lacson said as he disagreed with Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III who had presumed ‘’regularity’’ on the “institutional amendments’’ by the House of Representatives (HoR) on the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB or national budget) after the House recently passed the measure on third and final reading. Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon had cited some P326 billion ‘’lump sum’’ appropriations tucked in the proposed P666-billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Both cited a Supreme Court decision that lump sum appropriations are unconstitutional. Lump sum appropriations are suspected as ‘’pork barrel’’ appropriations. Lacson has been on the prowl every budget season, picking out suspected pork barrel appropriations in the GAB. The Senate is expected to receive from the House a soft copy of the budget on Oct. 28. Asked during an ANC interview if he believes a statement of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco that there is no pork in the GAB, only institutional amendments, Lacson replied: ‘’We have yet to see the transmitted copy of the GAB as approved on third and final reading, as transmitted to the Senate.’’ ‘’Until we see that, we cannot really tell or say if there’s pork or not in the House of Representatives version of the budget.’’ On a query whether amending budget after third and final reading is unconstitutional, Lacson said: ‘’That is clearly unconstitutional.’’ ‘’It’s very clear, there’s no other interpretation in that provision under the Constitution that after the third and final reading of any bill, including the GAB, no amendment shall be allowed thereto,’’ he said. ‘’I don’t see any other interpretation of that particular provision. So since they already passed on third reading the HoR version of the GAB, I see no reason why they will allow a small committee to introduce further amendments. Based on what I heard from Rep. Eric Yap, the Appropriations committee chairman, he said the amendments will not be coming from the congressmen but from the agencies,’’ he stated. ‘’Again, that’s another violation. We have a four-phase budget process. Budget preparation, authorization, execution, and accountability. We are now in the authorization phase. And only the Congress of the Philippines is allowed to participate in the authorization phase. Tapos na ang sa (the) Executive department (has completed its job in the) preparation phase. Ang execution, after napirmahan ng Presidente ang enrolled bill and when DBM starts disbursing allocations, doon mag-start ang execution. So agencies under the Executive branch cannot be allowed to participate in the authorization phase of the budget process. Sotto had said that he would presume regularity after the House made institutional amendments worth P20 billion, including P5.5 billion, for COVID-19 vaccines. Lacson stressed that amendments to the budget by the House small committee is unconstitutional. ‘’To say there’s presumption of regularity, I think it’s misplaced. If that is the output of the small committee and they will include these amendments in the USB drive they will transmit to us on Oct. 28, then we cannot presume regularity, with all due respect to my Senate President…because if it is based on an unconstitutional act, I cannot presume regularity,’’ he added......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2020

GOOD NEWS FOR COCONUT FARMERS

The Senate passed on Third and Final Reading last Monday, October 5, Senate Bill No. 1396, the bill creating the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund. It will likewise reconstitute the Philippine Coconut Authority Board by allowing small coconut farmers’ representation therein. The coco levy fund, according to Senator Gordon, has been the object of […] The post GOOD NEWS FOR COCONUT FARMERS appeared first on REMATE ONLINE......»»

Category: newsSource:  remateRelated NewsOct 12th, 2020

Budget slash for VFA panel

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. asked the Senate to cut the proposed P28 million budget of the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces for 2021......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 10th, 2020

Calida s allowances, budget reallocations raised in OSG budget deliberation at Senate

A Senate panel on Monday moved to defer the approval of the Office of the Solicitor General’s 2021 proposed budget over Solicitor General Jose Calida’s allowances, the office’s fund allocations and its tasks beyond its Charter......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 5th, 2020

DOF seeks swift passage of 2021 budget, economic measures

The Department of Finance (DOF) has sought the swift enactment by Congress of the proposed national budget for next year along with the economic priority measures to rebuild the economy and decisively defeat coronavirus. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III ( MB FILE, Albert Garcia) During a briefing for the Senate finance committee, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the timely enactment of the P4.506 trillion 2021 national budget is a key component of the government’s comprehensive program under its economic bounce-back plan. On top of the budget, Dominguez also said that a “timely and decisive” passage of several economic priority measures are needed to accelerate economic recovery. The priority measures, now pending in Congress, include the Financial Institutions’ Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act, and the Government Financial Institutions’  Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill. FIST allows banks to dispose of bad loans and non-performing assets through asset management companies, while GUIDE seeks to allow state-run banks to form a special holding company that will infuse equity, with strict conditions, into strategically important companies facing insolvency.  Likewise, the finance chief urged the Senate to pass the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), which will  immediately lower the corporate income tax (CIT) rate from 30 percent to 25 percent. “The swift enactment of CREATE, FIST, GUIDE and the 2021 budget will serve to accelerate our economic recovery. We should not delay providing urgent and necessary relief to our people,” Dominguez said during the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing. The DBCC is composed of the heads of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), DOF, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); and a senior representative from the Office of the President (OP). “We are committed to working closely with you on the recovery measures so that these can be enacted in a timely, decisive, and responsible manner,” Dominguez told members of the panel chaired by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. He said the Duterte administration will continue to work with the legislature in passing the remaining packages of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) that will, among others, institute reforms in property valuation and in the taxation of the financial sector. Dominguez said economic recovery also rests on sustaining President Duterte’s signature program “Build, Build, Build,” as sound infrastructure investments provide the largest multiplier effect on the economy in the form of more jobs creation,  increased consumption, and the generation of additional productive activities......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

DTI: 73,000 online sellers registered during lockdown

The lockdowns brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the registration of more than 73,000 online sellers, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez disclosed on Thursday. During the Senate Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship panel’s virtual hearing on the proposed Internet Transactions Act, Lopez reported that the Department of Trade and Industry has seen a 4000 percent […] The post DTI: 73,000 online sellers registered during lockdown appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2020

DBP releases more thanP1.4B cash aid to nearly 300k farmers

CALOOCAN CITY, May 22 (PIA) -- State-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has released more than P1.485-billion in assistance to small-scale farmers under a cash aid program administered.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2020

LANDBANK, DA Distribute P993M in Cash Aid to Small Rice Farmers

The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), continued to distribute cash assistance to small rice farmers during the CoVid-19 pandemic, paying out a total of P993.15 Million to 198,630 farmer-beneficiaries. The one-time financial assistance of P5,000 each is granted to rice farmers tilling farms with areas of […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsMay 17th, 2020

P50-B pay subsidy approved for middle-income workers

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte approved a P50.8-billion wage subsidy program for workers at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on Monday after he expressed reservations about a Senate proposal to include more than 5 million families in the government’s social amelioration program. The cash aid will benefit some 1.6 million small businesses in […] The post P50-B pay subsidy approved for middle-income workers appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020

Duterte OKs wage subsidy for middle class workers

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposed wage subsidy program for private sector employees affected by the community quarantine, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday. Nograles said the Small Business Relief Program would help some 1.6 million small businesses and their 3.4 million employees. Under the program, eligible workers would be given a cash aid of P5,000 […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020

DA-7: Rice farmers in Central Visayas may not qualify for P5K cash aid

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Rice farmers in Central Visayas may not be qualified to receive the P5,000 financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA). The cash assistance was intended for small rice farmers, who were mostly affected by the initial impact of the Rice Tariffication Law. Dr. Gerry Avila, supervising chief engineer for the […] The post DA-7: Rice farmers in Central Visayas may not qualify for P5K cash aid appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 18th, 2019

Bicam OKs P4.1-T nat’l budget next year

The bicameral conference committee yesterday approved the report on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020. Members of the joint panel signed and adopted the report during a meeting at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City. The report will be presented to the Senate and House of Representatives for ratification. Senate President Tito Sotto […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsDec 11th, 2019

Bill creating cash transfer scheme for rice farmers filed in Senate

Bill creating cash transfer scheme for rice farmers filed in Senate.....»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2019

Agriculture budget not enough to help small farmers

Of the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget, P43.6 billion is allocated to the Department of Agriculture, an 18-percent increase from P36.7 billion last year. But one wonders, how much pesos will find its way to small farmers like Centino and Ortiz? The post Agriculture budget not enough to help small farmers appeared first on Bulatlat......»»

Category: newsSource:  bulatlatRelated NewsOct 11th, 2019

Senate OKs distribution of rice to 4Ps beneficiaries

The Senate approved on second reading on Wednesday a joint resolution directing the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to use part of its budget for the conditional cash transfer program to buy rice from local farmers......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 4th, 2019

Groups welcome proposed U.S. travel ban on officials in De Lima detention

MANILA, Philippines – Groups welcomed the decision of a United States Senate panel to amend a bill that would deny the entry into the US of Filipino government officials involved in the detention of Duterte critic Senator Leila de Lima.  In separate statements released on Saturday, September 28, Senator ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 28th, 2019