Government will not meet irrigation targets in 2014



by Cai U. Ordinario, Butch Fernandez

July 4, 2013

Business Mirror



DESPITE billions of pesos poured by the Aquino administration into the government’s irrigation program, the Philippines will not be able to meet its targets by 2014.


In a report released by the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), which has a budget partnership with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the government was only able to irrigate, restore and rehabilitate 751,973 hectares of land since 2010.


Malacañang, meanwhile, promoted NIA Senior Deputy Administrator Claro Maranan to the top post of the state-owned corporation, which recently received a tongue-lashing from President Aquino for failing to meet its goals.


Maranan will formally take the place of Antonio Nangel once the NIA Board of Directors has officially accepted his nomination. Nangel’s tenure as head of the government corporation tasked to oversee public irrigation projects expired on Sunday.


In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. confirmed Maranan’s new designation as NIA chief “to serve the term of office beginning July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.”


Before joining NIA, Maranan, 54, served as acting manager of the engineering services division at the Philippine Ports Authority. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from Lyceum of the Philippines and took up his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Luzonian University in Lucena City.


R1 said that for the 2010-2014 period, the government aims to cover 1.41 million hectares of new, restored and rehabilitated irrigation systems to boost the country’s rice production and attain rice self-sufficiency status.


“While we are happy with the significant amount of government resources spent on irrigation, we have to make sure the people’s money will not be squandered and the long dream of achieving rice self-sufficiency will be attained. Besides, NIA has to earn back the people’s trust with its record of being among the graft-ridden agencies in the government,” R1 co-convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos said.


The R1 report said that under the Food Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP), the Department of Agriculture (DA) proposed a total of P76.39 billion for various irrigation projects between 2010 and 2014.


But when it came to the actual budget of the government, the NIA is programmed to receive more with P123.18 billion until 2014. The actual spending of the NIA on irrigation facilities has reached P51.96 billion between 2010 and 2012, almost half the allocated budget for the NIA and more than half of what was proposed under the FSSP.


R1 added that the total appropriation for irrigation for 2010-2013 is P90.6 billion. As of February 2013, the amount released to the NIA for 2010-2013 has reached P58.76 billion.


“While we’re looking into the NIA’s accomplishment and financial report, it has no disaggregated data on expenditures for new irrigation systems, and those for restoration and rehabilitation. We are worried with the 2011 Commission on Audit [COA] report that around P80.5 billion worth of NIA assets could not be established due to incomplete subsidiary ledgers and another P61.6 billion worth of construction-in-progress [CIP] could not be ascertained owing to non-maintenance of subsidiary records for CIPs,” R1 co-convenor Au Regalado said.


Regalado said they expect the COA to look deeper into the results of this study and conduct an honest-to-goodness evaluation of the roles of NIA officials in the dismal performance and should be held accountable under the civil service, civil and criminal laws.


R1 also called for a deeper investigation of the agency’s low and substandard performance and get the responsible officials face the cases and penalties due them.


When the Aquino administration assumed power in 2010, 51 percent of 3,126,340 hectares irrigable farmlands had yet to be provided with irrigation systems.


The NIA’s accomplishment report indicate that in 2010, the agency was able to accomplish 50 percent of its target for new irrigated areas; 76 percent of areas for restoration of irrigation systems; and 78 percent of target for rehabilitation of irrigation systems.


In 2011 the agency was able to achieve only 71 percent of new irrigated areas; 56 percent of restoration target; and 106 percent of those for rehabilitation.


In 2012 only 55 percent of target new irrigated areas was achieved; 66 percent of restoration target; and 186 percent of rehabilitation target.






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