Press Release
September 9, 2013


The Department of Agriculture (DA) must unbundle its P79.1 billion budget proposal for 2014 and disaggregate its programs in terms of projects and areas once the agency faces the senate for the plenary hearing starting November.

Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the senate committee on finance today recommended the DA budget for plenary subject to submission of programs detailing how much and where the agency plans to spend and obligate its funding.

Under its 2014 proposal, the DA budget will increase by 6.3% or P4.9 billion more than its 2013 permitted budget.

Escudero specifically asked for the line item allocation of the department's P17.3 billion irrigation project (both local and foreign-assisted), its P12 billion farm-market road projects, the P1.7 billion PAMANA projects and the P8.4 billion bottom up budgeting projects (BUB).

"We ask for these since DBM Sec. Abad already said that the budget is already a released document. Being so, when all your programs are already disaggregated, you don't need a SARO (special allotment release order) to implement the projects immediately. I don't care if you submit several volumes of budget documents, we will welcome it in the committee and will approve it so long as it shows clarity on how you will obligate your funding," Escudero told DA Secretary Proceso Alcala.

The senator said through line-item allocation, agencies can already bid out projects beginning of the fiscal year, short of awards. This, he said, gets agencies to meet its targets on time, if not ahead.

At the same time, he also asked DA to submit a detailed plan of its agriculture modernization thrusts in the following breakdown:

*  P6.9 billion rice program
*  P1.7 billion corn program
*  P1.6 billion high-valued commercial crop
*  P 1.3 billion livestock program
*  P 3.7 billion fisheries program.

"Who will implement these programs? In the DA programs, how many percent still uses NGOs to implement such? Do you still allow NGOs to implement some of your programs? It is not prohibited as of yet?"

"This time dahil sa mga pangyayari po ng kontrobersya I think we have to check with DBM at saka po COA," Alcala replied. The senator asked for a list of programs that will be implemented by DA itself and NGOs if there are any.

Escudero also took Alcala to instruct all the attached agencies and corporations under the DA to address all findings and recommendations from the Commission on Audit (COA) in its annual audit report of the agency.

"In our next meeting, we won't anymore allow you or any agency for that matter to just sweep the COA audit under the rug. Instruct all your units to address the COA findings, you can take the issues to court if you don't agree with their findings but these definitely cannot be left hanging and unanswered. We will make sure to ask each and every recommendation and observation to be settled by the agency as well as your attached corporations. That's for our next meeting, Mr. Secretary," Escudero told the DA head.

Recently, COA has released its report on funds culled from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of legislators which have been channeled through several agencies under the DA like the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) and the Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC). The senator scored both agencies during the second hearing of the senate blue ribbon committee on the PDAF scam probe for ignoring procurements laws in relation to releasing funds to questionable NGOs

News Latest News Feed