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House panels OK bill to boost coconut industry

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization and the House Committee on Agriculture and Food recently approved an unnumbered substitute bill seeking to empower the country’s coconut industry.

The panels on Wednesday passed the substitute bill to House Bills 3537, 141, 2464, and 3883, subject to form and style.

Deputy Speaker and AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin, who authored HB 3537, cited the need to grant the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) corporate powers and functions to “make it a profitable, sustainable, and development-oriented agency.”

“The appeal to this body is, if we want the industry to improve, thereby improving thereby improving the lives of the coconut farmers, we need to fix the agency that is supposed to do that,” she said during the recent joint committee hearing.

She said the PCA, as the lead agency overseeing the welfare of coconut farmers, should be well equipped in terms of funding in order to function and fulfill its mandate.

According to the House leader, she is concerned “about the challenges faced by the agency in terms of manpower and their ability to effectively implement the five billion-peso annual disbursement from the Coco Levy Trust Fund and the 10 billion-peso allocation for the development of the coconut industry from the General Appropriations Fund (GAA).”

The partylist lawmaker said the measure equips the PCA with a solid and multifaceted mandate, which focuses on developmental, governmental, regulatory, research and development, and corporate powers and functions.

“Another key feature of the bill is allowing more representation from the farmers, processors, traders, researches, and academe comprising seven board seats out of 11 board seats,” she said.

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