THE Marcos administration is eyeing an estimated P10 billion expected excess collection from the Rice Competiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEP) this year to expand the country’s irrigation capacity and subsidize farm inputs to cut production cost and increase farmer’s income.
This is according to Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, adding that the House of Representatives, would move to allocate an additional P40 billion funding for irrigation projects under the 2024 national budget.
The main purpose is to support the mission of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to increase agricultural production.
“Nakikita po natin, mukhang magkakaroon po tayo ng excess collections sa RCEF kaya sabi ng ating mahal na Pangulo dapat itong 10 billion (pesos) na excess collections, ipagamit natin dito sa ating mga magsasaka,” Speaker Romualdez said in his message during the presentation of solar-powered irrigation projects by the National Irrigation at the NIA Region 3 Office in San Rafael, Bulacan.
“At yung hinihingi lang naman sana kaya itong parang namumuhunan ang ating Presidente dito sa mga magsasaka para pagdating ng panahon na maaani itong mga palay, siguro, ipasa na lang ‘yung savings nito sa mamamayan para bumaba naman yung presyo ng ating bigas,” he added.
He said the President’s gesture manifests the Chief Executives’ firm resolve to boost agricultural production, particularly of rice, to ensure a stable supply of food for every Filipino family at affordable prices, and at the same time help improve the lives of our farmers.
Part of this effort is the President’s dream to eventually bring down the price of rice to P20 per kilo, according to Romualdez.
Noting the crucial role of irrigation in boosting agricultural productivity, Speaker Romualdez said the House would grant NIA’s plea for additional funding, particularly for irrigation projects.
Earlier, NIA has formally asked the House to restore around P90-billion worth of funding that was removed from the proposed 2024 budget for the agency.
“Yung mga hinihingi nila ay over P100 billion pero ang naibigay sa kanila ay mga P40 billion (lang) kaya mukhang makaka-realign tayo ng pondo na over P40 plus billion. So idodoble natin ‘yung nasa NEP (National Expenditure Program) para at least makakagalaw ang NIA,” Romualdez told reporters in an ambush interview.
Speaker Romualdez also lauded the solar-powered irrigation project of the agency in Bulacan province.
The House leader joined by other lawmakers, inspected the Kapatiran Solar Pump Irrigation Project at Brgy. Sampaloc, San Rafael, Bulacan.
Powered by 115 solar panels, the system irrigates 150 hectares of farmland, directly benefitting 114 farmers and their families.
Accompanying the Speaker were Appropriations Committee chair Zaldy Co, Deputy Majority Leader for Communications Erwin Tulfo, ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Edvic Yap, and Bulacan 3rd District Rep. Lorna Silverio.
The Speaker was welcomed by Bulacan Vice Gov. Alex Castro, San Rafael Mayor Mark Violago, along with NIA Acting Administrator Eduardo Guillen.