NIA wants ISF revoked
By Mortz C. Ortigoza
URDANETA CITY – The regional manager of the National Irrigation Administration wanted payment for irrigation fees paid by farmers stopped, just like what the members of a senate committee had done recently.
FARM INPUTS. Region 1 Regional Manager John Celeste (2nd from left) of the National
Irrigation Administration,San FabianMayor ConstanteB. Agbayane (3rd fromleft), and stake
holders discuss the provision of farm inputs to farmers during the duration of the program”- tangal palitan ng “signing of the Memorandum of Agreement among the NIA, the local government unit of San Fabian and the Federation of Irrigators Association of the town.
Region 1 Regional Manager John Celeste hoped the Implementing Rules and Regulations would be out soon on excluding farmers from paying next year the Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) after the bill filed by Senator Cynthia Villar concerning the exclusion becomes a law.
Celeste wanted to see how the IRR would govern the owners of small and big tracts of land since he wanted that small landowners should be excluded for the ISF while big land owners would continue to pay.
The powerful Senate Finance Committee recently included P4 billion in the General Appropriations Act of 2017 to cover the ISF collected by the NIA from the farmers all over the country.
Celeste said for this year the NIA would be collecting P1.8 billion for the ISF nationwide while his office that oversees four provinces, collects from the farmers P100 million.
Senator Legarda told Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, in a recent senate hearing, that she and Committee vice chairman Senator Cynthia Villar and members Senators Ralph Recto, JV Ejercito, Francis Pangilinan, Miguel Zubiri and Risa Hontiveros supported the revocation of the ISF that burdens the 2.5 million rice farming families.
Celeste said 60 percent of the P1.8 billion ISF collection this year goes for the salaries and wages of NIA’s officials and employees while 40 percent goes to the irrigators’ associations.
He said the P4 billion appropriation by the Senate would be for the repair, construction of canals, drainage, and others.
Former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said it was only right for the government to subsidize the irrigation services to ease the burden of the farmers.
He cited Vietnam that does not bill her farmers for irrigation service thus a comparative advantage for that country to sell rice in the global market.
Rice producing Thailand has similar policy with Vietnam.
In a news article written by Agriculture Secretary Pinol, he disclosed that the irrigation fees had seriously affected the profitability of Filipino farmers as the cost of water services is estimated at P3 for every kilo of palay they produced.
Oftociano “Anong” Manalo, president of the Federation of Irrigators Association of Region I, said a farmer pays an equivalent of five cavans of palay for the ISF per cropping during dry season and three cavans of palay per cropping during wet season or P3,150 (45 kilos at P17 per kilo) and P2,295, respectively.
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