Solon: Revert NIA to DA

August 17, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 903 views

THE National Irrigation Authority (NIA) should be placed under the Department of Agriculture (DA) and not under the Office of the President (OP), a party-list lawmaker proposed Tuesday.

Magsasaka Rep. Argel Joseph Cabatbat said his proposal is a logical and sensible move to get NIA into shape again.

For the fifth year in a row, Cabatbat said the Commission on Audit (CoA) cited red flags in NIA’s management of contracts.

Last year, Cabatbat said CoA reported 841 contracts amounting to P6.579 billion that may be in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Cabatbat said it was found that NIA contractors presented documents that lacked details like project cost and percentage of accomplishment.

According to Cabatbat, NIA reverting to DA “makes perfect sense since the Agriculture department should be in charge of everything about the sector – from making sure planting activities are on time and yields sustained, to ensuring proper irrigation systems. NIA should share DA’s resources and act as a service agency, instead of a money-making corporate agency that it is now being a government owned and controlled corporation.”

Should NIA become DA’s responsibility again, Cabatbat said coordination among other attached agencies will be seamless and swift especially during times of pandemic and natural calamities like typhoons.

Cabatbat said a study show that proper irrigation is a major driver of productivity in farms.

For instance, he said more that 60% of rice fields depend on irrigation more than rain water.

By virtue of Executive Order 165, he said NIA was placed under the OP.

It is currently led by former Armed Forces chief of staff General Ricardo Visaya, with Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles as Board of Directors chairman.