By Madelaine B. Miraflor
There’s still hope for Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to have his ideal budget for 2017 after both the Congress and the Senate asked him to submit an amended budget proposal.
Piñol said the DA may get an additional P15 billion for next year, on top of its House-approved budget of P46 billion.
If approved, the department’s budget for next year could go to as high as P61 billion, quite near the P71 billion the Secretary earlier proposed in order to start working with his rice self-sufficiency program.
This, after Senator Cynthia Villar told Piñol to allot a higher budget for Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) projects and for livestock development.
Villar is currently the chairperson of Senate committee on agriculture and food.
“In the Senate the other day, instead of cutting our budget, Senator Cynthia Villar asked me why our budget is so low. So now, they are asking us to submit additional funding requirements,” Piñol told reporters on Wednesday.
He likewise said even if the House of Representatives already approved DA’s 2017 budget, they are also waiting for the said amendments.
“Earlier, Congressman Raul Daza called me and asked me to submit my proposed amendment for our 2017 budget,” the DA chief further said.
“My estimate is to ask for additional P15 billion because the Senate and House want the budget for FMR projects to increase by P10 billion and we will propose another P3 billion for livestock development as well as for dairy production,” he added.
To recall, the DA was forced to delay by a year the full implementation of its plan to make the country become self sufficient in rice since the new administration is still reluctant to release large amounts of funds this year.
Originally set for this year, the government’s three-year rice program is now supposed to start in 2017 as the agency wants to lessen the gap between the country’s production and consumption over the next three years.
For this year, the national budget allotted for the agriculture sector stands at P48.4 billion.