The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has "no buffer fund” for the stockpiling of basic and prime commodities, including face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) in its proposed P5.3 billion budget for next year.
This was bared during the House plenary deliberations on the agency’s proposed 2021 budget after Gabriela partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas cited the need for the government to allocate funding for such purpose, especially in times of national emergencies.
“We don’t practice the buffer fund. Wala pong (There is no) buffer fund from the very start. Nasa P5.3 billion ata ang kanilang budget (They have P5.3 billion budget), there is no buffer fund to speak of,” said Bukidnon 3rd District Rep. Manuel Zubiri, vice chairperson of the House Committees on Appropriations, and Trade and Industry who sponsored and defended the DTI’s budget for 2021.
Zubiri said the DTI did not propose a buffer fund for the stockpiling of basic commodities.
Citing Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7581, the “Price Act,” Brosas said the DTI should have its own buffer fund.
"Bakit ngayon walang nilaan para sa buffer fund (Why is it that you did not allocate a buffer fund) for stockpiling? Did you consider this in your original proposed budget? How much is the needed buffer fund?” she asked.
The Makabayan lawmaker said there is a need to allocate a buffer fund to respond to “shortages" in basic commodities, including medical supplies in times of disasters and calamities.
“'Yun po talaga ang dapat magkaroon ng allocation sa panahon ng sakuna. Yyun po ang talagang dapat magkaroon ng allocation para sa mga implementing agencies natin,” Brosas said. (We should really have that allocation, especially in times of calamities. Our implementing agencies should have that allocation.)
She explained that the implementing agencies may procure, purchase, import, stockpile any basic necessity or prime commodity and devise ways and means of distributing them for sale at reasonable prices in areas where there is a shortage of supply or a need to effect changes in its prevailing price.
"Kaya ang buffer fund po magandang ina-allocate sa annual appropriations lalong lalo na ngayon sa DTI. Kasi kahit sa usapin ng face masks, mga PPEs, etc mahalaga na may pondo tayo para dyan,” Brosas said. (It is important that the buffer fund is allocated in the annual appropriations, especially in the DTI’s budget. Because on the issue of face masks, PPEs, we need to have a fund for that.)
"Alam mo naman nung nagkaroon ng shortages sa ilan sa mga pangangailangan lalo sa health sector, maganda po mayroong nagagamit ang DTI na buffer fund,” she pointed out. (You know there were shortages in certain necessities, especially in the health sector. It is important that the DTI should have its own buffer fund.)