P10-B excess RCEF collections may be tapped for farming, irrigation — Romualdez
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. may use the P10 billion excess collections from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) in 2023 to support farming and irrigation operations, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said on Friday.
The RCEF, as mandated by Republic Act No. 11203, obtains its revenues from tariffs placed on imported rice. The funds are then used for research, mechanization, and skills training.
“Nakikita po natin, mukhang magkakaroon po tayo ng excess collections sa RCEF kaya sabi ng ating mahal na Pangulo dapat itong P10 billion na excess collections, ipagamit natin dito sa ating mga magsasaka,” Romualdez said during the presentation of solar-powered irrigation projects in San Rafael, Bulacan.
(We might have excess collections with the RCEF that’s why the President said that the P10 billion in excess collections should be used by farmers.)
This move, Romualdez said, is still part of the President’s efforts for food security and the goal of bringing down rice prices to P20 per kilogram.
“Walang masamang mangarap at gumawa lahat ng paraan na ma-achieve natin ito (There is nothing wrong with aspiring and crafting ways to achieve it),” he said.
Romualdez also announced that the House of Representatives has granted the National Irrigation Administration’s (NIA) request to restore their budget.
On Thursday, it was reported that NIA Acting Administrator Eduardo Guillen sent a letter to Romualdez asking for the restoration of their original proposal of a P132.3 billion budget for 2024.
Under the National Expenditures Program (NEP) submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), NIA was only given P41.27 billion — leading the agency to worry if this would be enough to prepare for an El Niño season’s effect on rice production.
Romualdez said the House cannot give the entire P132.3 billion that NIA originally proposed, but they would at least double the P41.27 billion in the NEP.