House OKs funding for coco levy fund bill
MANILA, Philippines — The House appropriations committee on Wednesday approved the funding provision of a bill that seeks to establish the coco levy fund.
During its virtual meeting, the panel approved the sections of the measure providing the budgetary requirements for the creation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund.
The House panel on agriculture has yet to approve the still unnumbered measure, which consolidated 16 bills seeking to create the coco levy fund.
Under the proposed legislation, the trust fund will be managed by a board that will craft plans on the utilization of the tax collected from coconut farmers, which was estimated to have grown to over P100 billion.
Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who sponsored the measure, said the utilization of the trust fund will be “in accordance with the coconut farmers and industry development plan.
Such a plan shall be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The measure aims to achieve the following objectives, Enverga said:
-to increase the income of coconut farmers
-to alleviate poverty and promote social equity
-to rehabilitate and modernize the coconut industry towards farm productivity
The measure is considered a priority measure of the Duterte administration.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco likewise pushed for the passage of the bill.
The Senate passed its own version of the coco levy fund bill on the third and final reading in October.
The collection of levy from coconut farmers started in 1971 during the term of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. After the fall of the Marcos regime, various suits were filed to give the fund’s control to coconut farmers.
In 2012, the Supreme Court declared that the coco levy funds are public funds.
During the 17th Congress, the President vetoed the coco levy bill over its lack of “vital safeguards” that could “disproportionately benefit wealthy coconut farm owners” because the law did not have a limit on the covered land area for entitlement of benefits.
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