Senator Cynthia Villar, in scrutinizing the proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA), made sure funding will go to projects, research and application that will help Filipino farmers and fisherfolks.
During the second hearing of the finance subcommittee on the P71.8 billion proposed budget of DA for year 2020, Villar reminded DA officials headed by Sec. William Dar to spend no more than 50 percent of their budget for overhead or operating expenses.
“Ang gusto natin mas malaki ang mapupuntang budget sa projects dahil iyon ang nakakatulong sa mga tao. Hindi tama na mas malaki ang napupunta sa pasweldo, sa maintenance and operating expenses habang kulang ang tulong sa farmers,” the veteran legislator said.
The seasoned lawmaker, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, also scrutinized the proposed budgets of DA’s flagship programs for rice, corn, livestock, organic agriculture, high-value crops, fisheries and halal to make sure they are allocating more money for items that will really help farmers and fisherfolks improve their productivity and increase their income.
The lady senator went over the budget of each of the 26 bureaus and government corporations under DA and asked heads of offices to explain how they intend to spend their budgets.
“Research without application will not benefit the farmers.”
She called out the P150 million budget of the department for research under the National Corn Program, saying research without application will not benefit the farmers.
“Hindi ba mas gustong magsasaka na makatanggap ng libreng seeds at machinery? Bakit hindi tayo gumastos para doon? More government money should be spent for projects, not for the expenses of the bureaucracy,” Villar said.
Usec. Ariel Cayanan reported that the program’s budget was recast to reflect suggestion for more spending on projects.
Villar also told the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority to allocate funds that will help develop the local fiber. She said PhilFIDA should put the budget increase it got last year not on the salary increase of its personnel but on programs that will help the industry.
“I am supporting the development of our local fiber.”
“I am supporting the development of our local fiber. It will be better if we could source the material we use in our blanket-weaving livelihood project locally,” she said.
Villar also advised the Philippine Rubber Research Institute, which allocated 75 percent of its budget for overhead, to come up with programs like the distribution of seedlings to farmers to help farmers have additional sources of income.