Release P4-billion interest from coco-levy fund–PCA

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) urged lawmakers on Monday to release at least P4 billion worth of interest from the P75-billion coconut-levy fund by the end of the year.

“Our request to them is that if the passage of law for the handling of the total coconut-levy fund would take longer, then we hope that they could release even the P4-billion interest,” said newly installed PCA Administrator Avelino Andal in a news briefing in Quezon City.

“We want the interest to be released so that in the interim, while waiting for the release of the principal money, we can start the ball rolling. Besides, the principal money is earning a lot per year so let’s use that [interest],” Andal added.

He said he plans to use the interest in reviving the local coconut industry and help farmers boost their incomes.

Andal added that the PCA should handle and keep the coconut-levy fund, and not the Bureau of the Treasury, as the agency attached to the Office of the President is directly responsible for developing the coconut industry.

“That should be the ideal situation. There should be only one body handling the coco-levy fund in order to avoid differences and obstacles to the releases and the disposition of the fund,” Andal said.

“The coco levy kept by the Bureau of the Treasury should be given to the PCA because it is the principal agency involved in addressing and helping coconut farmers,” he added.

In September Malacañang ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to file a bill that would expedite the release of the P75-billion coco-levy fund to help farmers fight  cocolisap or coconut scale insect infestation.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said President Duterte instructed him and presidential liaison officer Adelino B. Sitoy to work with Congress to fast-track the passage of
the measure.

As the President wants the coco-levy fund released before the year ends, Piñol said the bill would be certified as urgent.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government disclosed that the coco-levy fund that was collected from coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982 has increased to P75 billion from P73 billion.

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