Pro-salt industry bill's approval to address 'a sin', says Romualdez

At a glance

  • The House of Representatives approves on third and final reading the proposed Philippine Salt Industry Development Act embodied in House Bill (HB) No.8278.

  • House Speaker Martin Romualdez frowns over the fact that the Philippines imports nearly 550,000 metric tons (MT) of salt or 93 percent of its requirement.

20230529_155456.jpg House Speaker Martin Romualdez (left), salt (Speaker's office, Unsplash)

The approval of the proposed Philippine Salt Industry Development Act will help address "a sin"--that is, the Philippine's dependence on imported salt despite it being surrounded by salt water.

With a vote of 287-0-0 (yes-no-abstain), the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on Monday afternoon, May 29 House Bill (HB) No.8278.

The measure is listed by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) as one of the priority legislation of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

"The significance of the salt industry hasn't been lost on our President and concurrent Department of Agriculture (DA) chief Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. He knows that we need to correct the sad irony that the country imports nearly 550,000 metric tons (MT) or 93 percent of its requirement for salt," Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a statement after the bill's approval.

"This is indeed a sin," added Romualdez, the Leyte 1st district congressman.

The bill has been described by its authors as a whole-of-nation, whole-of-society, and whole-of-government approach as it seeks to revitalize the salt industry.

Under the measure, salt--whether unprocessed or processed, is hereby classified as a basic agricultural product with all its necessary legal and regulatory implications.

"The DA shall also ensure that salt is a priority commodity to be produced locally in areas or regions identified in this Act, as well as in the development plan for the salt industry," the bill read.

A key provision under HB.No.8278 creates the Philippine Salt Industry Development Council (PSIDC), which seeks to ensure the unified and integrated implementation of the roadmap and accelerate the modernization and industrialization of the Philippine salt industry.

The PSIDC is tasked to formulate the Philippine Salt Industry Development Roadmap containing the short-term, medium-term, and long-term development plan. It will also identify specific and priority programs and projects in support of, and in line with the Roadmap.

It will also provide development funds, technical assistance, and equipment to salt farmers and the industry. The support shall be commensurate to the size of the salt farm.

Through the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the PSIDC will put up new small scale artisanal salt farms.

The council will identity sources of financing and facilitate credit windows with government banks and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council to expand the salt industry development.

Also, it will endeavor to increase production of local salt by increasing land area devoted to salt and improving farm productivity, as well as to nstitutionalize capacity building for salt farmers through the Agricultural Training Institute.

It seeks to strengthen market linkage and promotion of Philippine salt and conduct continuing research and development (R&D) on innovation and modernization of the salt industry.

It aims to establish an Agri-Insurance Program for salt producers, as well as parameters and guidelines when domestically-produced salt may be subjected to mandatory salt iodization under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 8172, otherwise known as “An Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN)".