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“Difficult But Surmountable” Philippine Panel Optimistic Amid Agriculture Woes

House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co believes that the agriculture-based challenges that the country is facing is “difficult but surmountable”.

Co had this to say as Department of Agriculture (DA) officials led by Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban attended the agency’s budget briefing Monday, Sept. 5 before the appropriations panel.

“The road ahead is difficult but surmountable. As the nation embarks on a new chapter of socio-economic transformation, the agriculture sector must remain at the forefront of our collective effort to create more jobs and reduce poverty, and improve the lives of every Filipino, especially farmers and fishermen,” he said.

Co said the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Martin Romualdez, supports President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in building and strengthening the agricultural sector.

“This institution is united with the President in building and strengthening the foundations of our agricultural economy for an even stronger national food security. We strive for a more prosperous, climate-resilient, and empowered Filipino countryside,” he noted.

Over the past few weeks, prices of sugar, salt, onion, and garlic have been on the rise due to supply chain issues. Russia’s invasion of in Ukraine has also caused the continuing spike in oil and wheat prices, creating an uptick in the cost of other goods and services.

President Marcos, who is concurrently the DA secretary, had emphasized in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25 that agriculture will be a main driver for economic growth and job creation.

“The President’s pronouncement, together with this unprecedented budget increase for agriculture, acknowledges the many challenges that the sector faces and affirms his support for the sector. This recognition from the highest official of the land should facilitate the recovery from the food crises that abound in the agriculture sector,” said Co.

The DA is seeking an almost 40 percent hike in its 2023 budget to help the agency strengthen food security by increasing local food supply and lowering food prices.

“The P46.5 billion or 39.62 percent increase in the agriculture sector’s budget from 2022 to 2023 is unprecedented. The increase is from P117.29 billion in the 2022 GAA (General Appropriations Act) to P163.75 billion in 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP),” Co said at the opening of the hearing on DA’s budget.

“This budget increase should ensure the country’s food security—meaning, as per President Marcos’s directive, local food supply should increase and, by the law of supply and demand, result in lower food prices,” he stressed.

The NEP is the precursor of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which is the budget measure that emanates from the House of Representatives. Once enacted, the GAB becomes the GAA.

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2022/09/05/difficult-but-surmountable-appro-panel-head-optimistic-amid-agriculture-woes/

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