R1 wants details of stimulus fund for agri revealed
Written by Jonathan Mayuga / Correspondent

Bussiness Mirror

Tuesday, 27 January 2009



DETAILS of the economic stimulus fund intended for agriculture should be made public to ensure that the increase in budget increase of the concerned agency would not be squandered, according to a nongovernment organization.

The money should be used to address the potential impact of the existing global economic and financial crisis, said the organization known as Rice Watch and Action Network (R1).
A lack of transparency would make the public suspicious that the stimulus fund would not reach its intended recipients, R1 said.

The nongovernment organization wants Congress to disclose the mechanisms for the money because the stimulus package was forged in a bicameral conference and a lot of insertions and negotiations happened between and among the legislators.   

“We are pleased that the agriculture agency got more money this year after beefing up food- production budget due to last year’s rice crisis. But we are as alarmed that the allotment ballooned at a time when the government is preparing for the 2010 elections,” said Jessica Reyes-Cantos, R1 lead-convenor. Congress approved a P1.4-trillion budget for 2009 that includes the P10-billion economic stimulus fund. Agriculture got P48 billion for the agency and Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) on top of P2.5 billion from the economic stimulus fund.

The stimulus fund for agriculture is supposed to support production of tropical fruits, indigenous crops, expanded production of ruminants, dairy and poultry production. Part of the money is known as the guarantee fund for livestock and poultry, sea cages for tilapia and bangus and seaweed production and the acquisition and operation of motorized banca for fishing communities.

“Except for the provision of motorized banca for fishing communities, these programs are directed toward the export market, which is clearly not a very good investment since the government has very limited resources at this point. We need concrete plans for the stimulus fund that will result to bigger and more sustainable returns aside from ensuring that the budget will not be used to finance preparations for the 2010 elections at the expense of the livelihood of the poor,” Cantos noted.








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