House Rep ready to deliberate Free Irrigation Service Act of 2017

Rice farms along national highway in Barangay Trece Martirez, Casiguran, Sorsogon where farmers rely on irrigation facilities. But, they complain of high irrigation fees collected by NIA, and call to abolish the service fees. BICOLTODAY.COM PHOTO

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY — This will be the start of the genuine agricultural development in the country was how Deputy Minority Leader Representative Anthony Bravo of COOP NATCCO PL described the approval of the house of representative appropriations committee. Wednesday, past week, a substitute bill is known as Free irrigation Services Act of 2017 granting free irrigation services to farmers.

Lauding the measure, Bravo said that it is a milestone for the farmers who for long burdened by the imposed irrigation service fees and thanking PRRD for certifying it as a priority and the Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Congressman Jose Panganiban for facilitating the fast approval.

The new consolidated bill will amend provisions of PD 1702 mandating the National Irrigation Administration to collect Irrigation Service Fees from farmers. It’s estimated early collection is almost 2 billion pesos. This year, the administration of PRRD allocated P2 billion to offset the estimated NIA collection.

The solon said that he filed the same measure during the 16th congress but was not acted by the Aquino administration allowing NIA to continue the impose irrigation service fee to the farmers adding that the funding to NIA was a very welcome development. He clarified that once the bill is enacted into law, irrigation services will be permanently free as its funds will be included in the General Appropriations Act.

The COOP Natcco congressman said that the allocation for irrigation services would amount to 3 billion pesos or more per year to cover all irrigation systems constructed, funded and operated by NIA, Department of Agriculture or any government agency and local government units.

The funding will cover all unpaid irrigation service fee, the penalties and interest for non-payment will be condoned under the proposed law. This will increase income to the farmers whose production capacity suffered from destructive typhoons and floodings.

As safeguard the bill seek to build and operationalize and effective grassroots-based management of the irrigation systems in consultation by the government with the farmers and irrigators associations. Owners or operators of corporate farms, plantation, fishpond and non-agricultural crop users that are using the facilities of NIA irrigation system will not enjoy the privilege of farmers. Irrigators under the proposed new bill.

The bill will be referred back to its mother committee for the preparation of the committee report and soon will enter plenary deliberations. [BicolToday.com]

Posted by on May 16, 2017. Filed under Bicol News,Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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