Government shelves fuel subsidy for farmers

Published by rudy Date posted on May 25, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  President Aquino yesterday deferred the implementation of fuel subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk, citing the lack of inventory on their real numbers.

Aquino cited the difficulty of getting the real number of farmers and fisherfolk as beneficiaries of the proposed P2-billion farm inputs and fuel subsidy program.

“It is not that easy, unlike those in the jeepney and tricycle sectors since they can be identified through their franchises. In the case of the farmers and fisherfolk, they have no registration (that we could use as basis for the program),” Aquino told reporters at Jala-Jala, Rizal where he led a seeding program at Laguna Lake.

The proposed program is unlike the fuel subsidy the government has provided to jeepney and tricycle drivers, where the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and local government units concerned have a list of total franchisees.

Last May 1, Aquino announced the P4.23-billion rice subsidy the government would provide to farmers and fisherfolk, on top of the P2-billion farm inputs that are already in the pipeline.

It turned out, however, that only the rice subsidy pushed through.

In an interview at Malacannang last Monday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said fuel and equipment subsidy was no longer possible because it might cause more problems than solutions, given the lack of data on who should receive the assistance.

The P2 billion that was supposed to be earmarked could have been in line with the government’s efforts to help the workers in particular, and the public in general, to cushion the impact of increases in oil products and transport fares.

The rice subsidy the government has provided to farmers and fisherfolk is with the National Food Authority (NFA), and this was passed on to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that has an expanded listing for the conditional cash transfer program.

This, however, was forwarded to the National Household Targeting Survey so as to ensure that all indigents will reap the benefits of the subsidy.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the objective is to “accelerate the implementation of the program and focus it on more vulnerable sectors of society,” which means the government will adopt a pro-active policy.

The task was taken away from the NFA as past records showed that only 60 percent reached the intended recipients, while a “significant portion” was diverted to middlemen to sell the rice for a higher price.

“NFA is not really structured to provide assistance where it will be needed the most. Now, we have names and addresses. Now, with the conditional cash transfer program, the DSWD has a list of 10 million from the informal sector,” Abad said. –Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

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