Duterte urged to order LGUs to allot budget for agri

Published May 14, 2021, 11:57 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Now that the budget for 2022 is being prepared, President Rodrigo Duterte was asked by the private sector to issue an Executive Order (EO) to mandate local government units (LGUs) to allot a higher budget for their respective agricultural development.

This request came up in anticipation of LGUs getting additional P234.39 billion budget beginning in 2022 from the new Mandanas-Garcia ruling.

In a briefing, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc (PCAFI) President Danilo V. Fausto said Duterte must issue an EO institutionalizing provincial-led agricultural governance especially as LGUs will soon be awash with cash. He said such an EO should be issued soon considering that budget for 2022 is now being prepared.

PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto

In drafting next year’s national budget, Fausto said the Philippine government should take into consideration a Supreme Court ruling, which was reaffirmed in 2019 and to be implemented in 2022, that LGUs will have higher internal revenue allotment (IRA) starting 2022. The high court ordered that LGUs should get a share of all national taxes, not only those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue but all national tax collections.

Initial government estimates showed that instead of more than P800 billion, LGUs, with higher IRA, may actually take up about P1.08 trillion of the P5 trillion proposed national budget for next year.

For PCAFI and the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines (CAMP), an EO must be issued rather than just putting all responsibility for the farm sector’s administration to the Department of Agriculture (DA) alone as what is the prevailing system.

PCAFI asserts that since the national government’s budget for DA will be reduced, it is just proper for LGUs to allocate 10 percent of their IRA for food security.

“It is the interest and responsibility of LGUs to invest in food security,” said Fausto

“To create fiscal space, it is expected that some of the projects of the national agencies will be un-funded. With the policy of the current administration giving low priority to agriculture, we can project that the unfair allocation of the national budget to DA will further aggravate,” he added.

For his part, CAMP Chairman Emil Q. Javier said the issuance of EO will compel LGUs to put a major focus on agriculture and food security and should prompt the development of more agricultural offices in the provinces.

“The tactical program in agriculture should be coursed to provincial offices to encourage provincial government [to focus on agriculture]. We should organize extension officers in SUCs [state universities and colleges],” said Javier.

Since March of this year, PCAFI has been asking for reform in budgeting for the agriculture sector.

To be specific, it has been pressing for an allocation of at least 10 percent budget for agriculture out of the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP). This, since agriculture contributes 10 percent of GDP.

“Out of the total national budget of P4.506 trillion, the share of agriculture is a measly 1.5 percent or P66.4 Billion, despite contributing 10 percent to total GDP, showing clear disparity in budget allocation and the lack of priority given by the administration to food production leading to food sufficiency and food security,” said Fausto.