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Senate ratifies bicam reports on coco trust fund for farmers

 

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THE Senate has ratified the bicameral conference committee reports on the measures creating the P105-billion coconut trust fund for farmers and strengthening the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

In its session Wednesday, the Upper Chamber adopted the new final version of the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which would facilitate the release of the coco levy fund collected from farmers during the administration of late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Last month, the Senate recalled the enrolled bill sent to President Duterte after Cabinet officials aired concerns about the lack of a sunset provision on the proposed P10-billion annual fund of the PCA for augmented assistance to coconut farmers and the composition of the PCA Board.

“This report, in effect, withdraws the bicam report of October 11, 2018,” Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and sponsor of the measure, said in sponsoring the new bicameral report.

Under the second version of the coco levy bill, Villar had said that farmers will annually receive P5 billion of the coconut trust fund for 25 years.

On the same day, the Senate also adopted and ratified the bicam-approved version of the bill that would liberalize the importation and exportation of rice, a measure certified as urgent by President Duterte.

A consolidation of Senate Bill 1998 and House Bill 7735, the proposed rice tariffication law would lift the quantitative restrictions on rice imports and impose tariffs in its stead. It will also remove unnecessary government intervention on rice market with the abolition of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council.

Under the bill also, a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) of at least P10 billion will be allocated annually for the local rice industry. (Vanne Elaine Terrazola)

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