The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is crafting its own version of a legislative bill that would outline the utilization and management of the P75-billion coco-levy fund.
Newly elected PCA Administrator Romulo dela Rosa said the PCA has started crafting the “executive version” of the coco-levy bill, which aims to “reconcile” with other bills filed before the Congress.
“Right now we are forming the executive version of the [coco-levy] law. The executive version will try to reconcile the house and senate versions,” dela Rosa told reporters in a news briefing on Monday.
Dela Rosa said they are fast-tracking the bill in order to present it before President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 24, so that he could certify it as urgent. The PCA chief added they are hopeful the bill will be passed into law before the year ends.
“Hopefully, before Sona, the President can certify it as urgent,” he said. “Within the year the law will be passed, so that the President can sign it and we could utilize the funds for the benefit of the coconut farmers and industry.”
Dela Rosa said the executive version of the coco-levy bill aims to answer the “ambiguities” in the provisions of the bills filed before the House and the Senate. One of which is whether the P75 billion would be a perpetual trust fund (PTF) and how much of it would be put under PTF, dela Rosa added.
“There are also views that the whole fund is not needed as PTF and there is also one that we should not anymore call it as perpetual trust fund, because that would be forever,” he said.
“What we could do is to limit to say to about 25 years or 50 years and after which will see if we have to continue it as trust fund,” he added.
The PCA chief also disclosed that one of the debates for the long-awaited coco-levy law is how much would be initially shell out to roll-out programs and projects for the development of the industry.
“A good portion of what has not been agreed yet is the amount that should be immediately used for the programs. If it will be a trust fund, then only the interest would be used, which will only be about P2 billion a year,” dela Rosa said.
“Some senators are thinking that the P2-billion annual funding is not enough and will not have any impact on the development of the coconut industry. So, might as well decide the amount that we will be initially used that will be impactful,” dela Rosa added.
Once a law governing the utilization of the P75-billion coco-levy fund, the PCA will implement projects and programs targeting the development of the industry’s value chain, according to dela Rosa.
“We shall work toward the passage of the law that will govern the utilization and management of the coconut-levy funds. Management of the fund shall ensure strong representation from farmers, manufacturers and government,” he said.
“The utilization of the funds shall entail the establishment of a perpetual trust fund and the allocation of sufficient resources that will create the most impact within the short and medium term,” he added.
In 2011 dela Rosa was appointed by former President Joseph E. Estrada as member of the coconut-levy trust fund committee tasked to prepare a plan for the administration and utilization of coconut-levy funds upon its recovery.
Dela Rosa, who was unanimously voted by the PCA governing board to assume the administrator’s position, said that under his term, the PCA would balance its efforts and focus in developing both the agricultural and manufacturing aspects of the coconut industry.