Greater economic opportunities await CARP beneficiaries next year

news national 2 pix 1 september 24 2018FARMER-BENEFICIARIES can look forward to greater economic opportunities as Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones has pledged to increase the budget allocated for program beneficiaries’ development in its proposed budget for next year, following the suggestions of Senate Committee on Agrarian Reform Chairperson, Sen. Cynthia Villa, to help ease rural poverty and boost the country’s food security program.

“We will do all means to correct the situation,” Castriciones said as he vowed to maintain his office’s pro-farmers stance.

Castriciones reassured Senate Committee on Agrarian Reform, Sen. Cynthia Villar during the committee budget hearing for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) late Thursday afternoon that his office would consider some of her suggestions to ensure that the farmer-beneficiaries would get the kind of services they truly deserve. 

Based on its proposed budget, the DAR allocated P2.054 billion for the implementation of the country’s land reform program, which accounts for 26 percent of the DAR’s proposed budget of P7.832 billion. Including the P370.05 million automatic appropriation, the DAR’s total proposed budget for next year is P8.202 billion.

Of the P7.832 billion, P916.9 million (12 percent) will go to program beneficiaries’ development to upgrade their on- and off-farm skills under the ARB Development and Sustainability Program and increase their income.

The rest of the DAR proposed budget will go to Personnel Service, P4.139 billion (53 percent), maintenance and other operating expenses, P1.329 billion (17 percent), support to operations, P160.25 million (2 percent), and capital outlay, P147.96 million (1.8 percent).

Castriciones said changes would be effected so that the proposed budget allocation for program beneficiaries’ development would increase to as much as the budget allocated for DAR personnel service, as suggested by Sen. Villar.

Villar proposed a 50-50 for proposed budget for personnel service and program implementation.news national 2 pix2 september 24 2018

Undersecretary for Support Services Emily Padilla clarified that the proposed budget for program implementation does not include the P73.517 million budget for land survey (P67.097 million) and titling (P6.42 million), which, in essence, should form part of the services being provided directly to prospective farmer-beneficiaries. 

Padilla said that these were classified as part of the budget for field operations, instead of being categorized under direct support services for farmer-beneficiaries.

Villar stressed the need to, at least, give to the farmer-beneficiaries as much as what the DAR personnel get for better appreciation of the DAR’s mission of spurring rural development. 

Castriciones agreed that there is a need to make some adjustments to make up for two of the DAR’s six foreign-assisted projects that had already been completed. Budget for such projects next year has gone down to P423 million, from P1.9 billion this year, further limiting the provision of development interventions in the countryside.

Combining the proposed budget of P423 million for foreign assisted special projects and the P916.9 million for the beneficiaries’ development program, the farming sector would just get direct aid of P1.34 billion from the DAR’s proposed budget for next year, much less than the P3.2 billion budget this year.

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