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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Bicam approves bill creating P100-billion coconut levy fund

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The congressional bicameral conference committee yesterday approved a bill creating the P100-billion coconut levy trust fund to be used for 25 years to benefit 3.5-million Filipino farmers, Senator Cynthia Villar said.

After emerging from the bicameral hearing, Villar told reporters the Senate version was adopted and the trust fund will be managed by a reconstituted Philippine Coconut Authority.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said no committee will be created to look after the coco levy trust fund of the farmers. She said the reconstituted PCA will have four representatives from government, one from the industry and six coconut farmers.

Under the bill, she said the trust fund would be sourced from the General Appropriations Act, and the P105-billion coco levy will be invested in treasury bills.

“Every year, we will give to the reconstituted PCA to spend it as we enumerated where to spend it; like it will be spent on scholarship of children of farmers, their health benefits, and their shared facilities program and then their program to improve their farms,” she said.

Villar said the fund will be in place starting next year and will run for approximately 25 years.

She said the government would allocate P10 billion a year for the trust fund while P5 billion a year would come from the P105-billion coco levy fund, which could last up to 25 years.

“At present, their money is P105 billion. If it will be divided by P5 billion, that’s 21 years, but it will still earn interest,” Villar said.

The approved version in the bicam will be sent back to the Senate and the House of Representatives for ratification. Once ratified by both chambers, the bill would be transmitted to the President.

Meanwhile, Villar also said that there will be farm development, enumerating the following shared facilities—farm development and empowerment of farmers’ organization, both 30 percent; scholarship, and health benefits, 10 percent.

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