Friday, November 28, 2014

Palace, coconut farmers have better ties after tackling coco levy issue, official says November 28, 2014

From the Website of the President

Palace, coconut farmers have better ties after tackling coco levy issue, official says November 28, 2014
Wednesday’s meeting between President Benigno S. Aquino III and coconut farmers has forged stronger relations between the government and players in the coconut industry, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan said Thursday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang Palace, Secretary Pangilinan said that despite the complicated issues surrounding the Coco Levy Fund, the government and the coconut farmers agreed on possible solutions to the industry’s problems.

“Sa kabila nito, lalo pang tumitibay ang ugnayan ng gobyerno at sektor ng magniniyog sa paghahanap ng mga agarang hakbang para sa sektor,” he told reporters.

Pangilinan said that during the meeting, both sides agreed on several issues, including the use of yearly interests from the fund to carry out programs for the industry.

This means that of the P72.8 billion fund, only about P3 billion in interest earnings from 2012 to 2014 will be used on the first year, leaving the principal at P69 billion, he said.

To prevent the fund’s depletion, a coconut farmers’ trust fund must be created and this will require a law, Pangilinan said, adding that the President promised to certify it as urgent.

While waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Coco Levy Fund and the new law, President Aquino is also ready to issue an order to address the needs of the coconut farmers, he said.

Aside from the Coco Levy Fund, the government also promised to release a separate budget for the development of coconut enterprises, Pangilinan said, noting that the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will consult coconut farmers’ federations to ensure the effectiveness of the PCA’s programs.

The President, during the meeting, also mentioned about his administration’s plan to privatize the United Coconut Planters Bank to augment the fund for the coconut industry, he said.

Pangilinan expressed the government’s determination to help the sector, citing that from 2010 to 2014, the government augmented the PCA’s budget from P900 million to P4.5 billion.

“Pinapalakas din natin ang coco-based farming enterprise para sa mga produkto gaya ng coco sugar, coco coir para umangat pa ang kita ng ating magsasaka at hindi lamang sa copra sila nakikinabang,” he said, noting that the President also encouraged farmers to practice intercropping.

Officials of the PCA continued to hold meetings with the farmers until Thursday morning. In the afternoon, they are expected to sign the summary of the agreements reached on Wednesday, Pangilinan said.
Office of the President Website

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