Agriculture department reports 94.6% use of 2017 budget

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture spent 94.6% of its P45.9-billion budget for 2017, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said.

Piñol said in a Facebook post on Thursday, May 3, that the agency's high budget utilization for 2017 showed that the DA can absorb a much bigger budget for 2019.

The DA was not able to use the remaining 4% of its 2017 budget due to failed biddings and foreign-funded projects which could no longer be implemented, because of the lack of local counterpart funds.

Piñol said that during the DA's quarterly budget obligation and utilization review on Wednesday, May 2, DA-Cagayan Valley topped other regional offices in terms of budget utilization in 2017.

“The office spent almost every centavo of the money allocated to it last year,” the agiculture chief said.

Piñol also hailed DA-Ilocos  and DA-Cordillera Autonomous Region  for maximizing their budget allocations at 99.99% and 99.98%, respectively.

As for the first quarter of 2018,  DA-Ilocos topped the list of regions with optimum fund utilization at 71.91%, followed by Cagayan Valley with 53.96% and Bicol with 52.87%, Piñol said.

To maintain the DA's traction, Pinol ordered the organization of a financial and management team which would assess and review the problems encountered by poor-performing regions. He will also spearhead an audit and evaluation team to look into the utilization of the budget and the impact of the projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Ambitious 2019 budget proposal

The DA is looking at an unprecedented budget of over P127 billion for 2019, after the DA regained supervision over the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA).

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to issue an executive order (EO) formally transferring the agencies under the DA, but Piñol says this would not hinder the transition.

Piñol was scheduled to meet with officials of the Department of Budget and Management on Thursday to discuss the DA's budget proposal.  The DA's current budget does not provide for the 3 new agencies. 

"The 3 agencies have their own budgets. Idadagdag na lang iyon sa budget ng (It will be added to the budget of the) DA once they are officially with us," he said.

Piñol has designated  Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano to handle the PCA, Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat for NFA, and Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan for FPA. 

"Since wala pang (there is no) EO [yet] transferring these agencies to us, ang nangyari ngayon (what we are doing now) are just coordination meetings. [We will] invite officials of these agencies for a getting-to-know you meeting next week," Pinol added. – Rappler.com 

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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