LAWMAKERS filed a bill to strengthen local government participation in agriculture development by institutionalizing a minimum of 10-percent allocation from their National Tax Allotment (NTA) for the implementation of programs, activities and services for agriculture and fisheries.
In filing House Bill (HB) 7597 (Local Agri-Fisheries Development Act), AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee said that the agriculture and fisheries sector must get its fair share of public funding to attain the country’s food security and redeem itself as an agriculture powerhouse, at par with other Asean countries.
“Our initial advantages in agricultural research and productivity have been lost and the agriculture sector has weakened in the last two decades. Local government units [LGUs] can play a crucial role in transforming the agriculture and fisheries sector,” Lee added.
Under the Mandanas-Garcia case ruling of the Supreme Court, LGUs ought to have a higher budget that can directly provide interventions to their local needs. In this new fiscal regime, there is a strong case to be made for greater prioritization and just share of the agricultural sector for its growth and development, according to the lawmaker.
“Taking into consideration that the share of LGUs will be automatically and directly released to the provincial, city, municipal or barangay treasurer without need for any further action and shall not be subject to any lien or holdback that may be imposed by the national government, this measure shall ensure that the LGUs will be mandated to effectively participate in our serious pursuit of agricultural development and include it as their priority with the necessary funding,” said Lee.
Under HB 7597, local agriculture development programs shall focus on areas which contribute to the competitiveness of the sector. These include the following: availability and production of seeds, livestock, fingerlings and other farm and fishery inputs; mechanization and post-harvest equipment and facilities; communal irrigation systems and maintenance; marketing of products; credit, guarantee and agriculture insurance; knowledge of better farming systems; and, knowledge of organic farming, among others.
The initial funding requirements to implement this proposal shall be charged against the current appropriations of the LGU. Thereafter, the needed funding for the implementation of this proposal shall be included in the yearly budget of the LGU from their NTA.
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