Lower House extends ACEF to 2028

December 12, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 91 views

WITH an overwhelming 242 votes, the House of Representatives on Monday approved on the third and final reading the House Bill (HB) No. 6524, which further extends the period of implementation of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) until 2028.

Under Republic Act (RA) 8178 enacted in 1996, ACEF receives an allocation from proceeds of minimum access volume (MAV) of agricultural products to be utilized in providing projects and support for the enhancement of global trade competitiveness of our local agriculture and improve the lives of small farmers and other stakeholders in the sector.

Under HB 6524, the Fund “shall continue to be set aside up to the year 2028, after which the collection of duties from the MAV mechanism and the setting aside of the amount collected for the purpose shall terminate.”

However, the bill also mandates that “any remaining balance(s) at the date of expiration of the collection of duties for the Fund shall not revert to the General Fund but shall continue to be used for the purpose for which it was collected and set aside.”

ACEF fund was originally set to expire by 2005 but was extended to 2015 by virtue of RA 8496 (ACEF Extension Law), while RA 10848 extended the life of the fund again until 2022.

“At present, there is a need to extend the current ACEF provision of RA 8178 as the concept of earmarking tariffs for local development remains valid,” the authors of the measure noted in filing the bill.

Likewise, they noted that “since the economic integration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is already with us, which enlarges markets for both local and regional firms, our agricultural production has to be more competitive.”

The authors also pointed out that ACEF’s mandate is not just to ramp up agriculture production but also to produce graduates of agriculture courses. They added that the scholarship component of the ACEF is “one of its few bright spots.”

“The reason for which ACEF was created more than twenty years ago, on how to make our agriculture competitive, remains valid and relevant in the challenging years ahead,” the authors said.

The authors of the bill were Reps. Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe, Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga, Joey Sarte Salceda, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Joselito S. Sacdalan, Dante S. Garcia, Mikaela Angela B. Suansing, Jose C. Alvarez, David C. Suarez, Rivera, Leody F. Tarriela, Nicanor M. Briones, Zaldy S. Villa, Edwin L. Gardiola, Yasser Alonto Balindong, Ma. Rachel J. Arenas, Fernando T. Cabredo, Eddiebong G. Plaza, Zubiri, Jaime D. Cojuangco J., Jefferson F. Khonghun, Gerville R. Luistro, Salvador A. Pleyto, Rudys Caesar G. Farinas I, Charisse Anne C. Hernandez, Joseph Stephen Paduano, Wilbert T. Lee, Sonny L. Lagon, Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr., Allan U. Ty, Rossana V. Vergara, Reynante U. Arrogancia, Jonathan Keith T. Flores, Ray Florence T. Reyes, Rex Gatchalian, France L. Castro, Wilter Y. Palma, Sergio C. Dagooc, and Marissa “Del Mar” P. Magsino.

As part of the amendments to RA 8178, HB 6524 requires that within 120 days from the approval of the Act, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) should submit a report to the ACEF Executive Committee and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) on duties collected from the MAV mechanism for 2016-2022.

Likewise, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is mandated to report on the ACEF funds released to the Department of Agriculture for 2016-2022.

The Commission on Audit is also tasked to conduct a full audit and submit a report on the status of ACEF grants and loans extended in 2016-2022.