To help cope with the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking P1 billion additional funds to ensure there will be enough food supply. Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that the DA has now sent a letter for this request to the office of the President. He said that this budget will help enhance the availability of food supply for the country and to sustain the food price stabilization.
As of Monday, the congress held a special session to tackle the president’s proposal for “emergency power” which will enable his administration to “take over business, hospitals, and public utilities to expedite resources while the Philippines is under a state of calamity”. However, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III earlier rejected proposals to take over businesses and stated that “it will not be supported by the upper chamber”.
Joey Salceda, the House Ways and Means chair stated that as the government is currently facing the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, “some businesses and manufacturers are seriously in need of support for the urgent production of necessities in fighting this COVID-19 problem”.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have already finished filing measures “seeking supplemental budget and stimulus packages”. According to several members of the congress, “the P27.1-billion stimulus package of the government might not suffice for the economic repercussions of the crisis”. In addition, DA Secretary Dar also said, “While the DA support systems are already in place to ensure food supply availability, we need additional funds to sustain their implementation, especially in areas where the enhanced community quarantine is strictly enforced”.
He also added that the DA needs to be proactive in dealing with the perceived situation through “ensuring the continuous production, processing, packaging and delivery of basic food commodities to major consumption centers, particularly Metro Manila”. Dar also said that some portions of the P250 million budget will also be used “to promote urban agriculture in the metropolis” for ensuring available food in case there will be a tightening in the supply as, according to him, there are so many spaces in urban areas like Metro Manila that can be used for this project.
For this, the P200 million budgets will be used for “mass production and distribution of planting materials, fingerlings, and animal breeds, as well as the DA services on wheels” and another P150 million will be allocated for the information, education and communication, and incentives for DA staff serving as frontliners”. DA also seeks to toughen its suggested retail price monitoring and enforcement, by allocating P75 million.
Featured image: http://www.da.gov.ph/da-requests-p1b-supplemental-budget-to-fight-covid-19/