In scrutinizing the proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture, Senator Cynthia Villar 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 Secretary William Dar to spend more than 50 percent of their budget for overhead or operating expenses.
“We want that bigger budget goes to the projects because that can help our people,” said Villar.
Villar said it was not right that a bigger bulk of the budget should go to the salaries, maintenance and operating expenses but the help for farmers was deficient.
Villar, chairman 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 were allocating more money for items that would really help farmers and fisherfolks improve their productivity and increase their income.
She 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.
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.
USec. Ariel Cayanan later in the hearing reported that the program’s budget was recast to reflect the suggestion of Villar for more spending on projects.
Villar also told the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority to allocate funds that would 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 would help the industry.
“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,” Villar said.
She 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.