The leader of the House of Representatives wants the Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee on the 2019 national budget to raise the allocation for the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the budget for the urban poor housing program this year.
In a news statement issued on Monday, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she will push her earlier move to increase by about P20 billion the proposed P123.7-billion allocation for 2019 of the DA.
Arroyo had earlier asked the House Small Committee on Appropriations to increase the budget of the DA by P20 billion to help in further lowering inflation.
Since her administration, Arroyo noted, the budget for the DA had dropped significantly. “The House had increased the budget of DA by P20 billion upon my instruction…,” Arroyo said.
The bulk of the DA’s 2019 budget will go to the National Rice Program, National Livestock Program, National Corn Program, National High-Value Crops, National Organic Agriculture and Halal Food Industry Development.
With the impending passage of the P3.757-trillion 2019 budget by the Senate, the Speaker said she will instruct the members of the bicameral committee from the House of Representatives to make sure that the P20 billion remain in the final budget.
“We have to make sure the increase in the DA budget is retained in the final budget because it will enable the DA to implement measures that will help farmers and increase production needed to control inflation,” she stressed.
Arroyo added there is a correlation between the budget allotted to a department to the growth in the particular sector it manages.
“As we were analyzing the budget, we realized that from 6 percent of the budget in my time, agriculture went down afterwards to 1.5 percent. No wonder we have shortage of food,” Arroyo noted.
Earlier, Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, sponsored in the Senate the proposed P122-billion budget of the DA for 2019. Villar said the DA’s budget is 3.34 percent of the proposed national budget amounting to P3.757 trillion.
Arroyo said she will, likewise, ask members of the bicameral committee on the budget to work to provide funding for the acquisition of titles of urban poor housing beneficiaries.
Convening for the first time the Oversight Committee on the National Government Center for Urban Poor Housing, Arroyo said she will ask the House contingent of the Bicameral Conference Committee on the 2019 budget if they can put P100 million to facilitate the acquisition of titles of more than 6,000 urban poor beneficiaries at the NGC Health Center land along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Arroyo, citing the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), said that no funding was allocated for the 2019 budget for the acquisition of titles and reblocking of individual lots for the 422-hectare NGC Health Center land in Quezon City.
Thousands of urban poor families at NGC Health Center at Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City were awarded by then-President Arroyo their own land as a result of RA 9207 (National Government Center Housing and Land Utilization Act of 2003). While most of them had already been awarded their own titles, some problems still exist, particularly reports of land-grabbing and failure in the reblocking of some properties.
She said the Oversight Committee will monitor the implementation of RA 9207, a law she signed when she was President in 2003, to make sure that the law is properly implemented.
The NGC land is divided into two sides, west side which has 184 hectares, while the east side has 238 hectares.
During the hearing, it was established that while 80 percent of the beneficiaries in the west side had been awarded their titles, 20 percent remain without their titles because of lack of funding from the DPWH. On the east side, titles have yet to be issued because of failure to reblock the lots also due to lack of funding.