Dar backs early appropriation of 2022 RCEF funds


The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing an early procurement for all programs funded by the 2022 Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to avert any possible delays that may be caused by the election ban on public spending due to the upcoming national and local elections.

This was disclosed by Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar during a virtual news briefing on Monday when he was asked if it is his position to have an early procurement for the 2022 RCEF following an interest to do such a measure by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).

“Every secretary wants procurement, who doesn’t want that? I will support [PhilMech’s early procurement plans],” he said.

“Ganoon lahat, kung may pera agad, even wala pa iyong pera, iyong tinatawag na procure na short of award. Iyon po ang gagawin natin para mas mabilis—procure but short of award. Meaning kapag dumating na ang pera iaward mo na. [It should be done in all RCEF components. Even without the funding yet, we can do the procurement short of award. That is what we are going to do to fast-track the implementation, procure short of award, which means we will just award once the fund arrives],” he added.

PhilMech Executive Director Baldwin G. Jallorina earlier said their agency is keen on conducting early procurement for the 2022 RCEF mechanization program in anticipation of the election ban on public spending next year.

PhilMech plans to complete the bidding for the 2022 RCEF mechanization program before the election ban takes place, which is 45 days before the May 8, 2022 election date.

Dar, who chairs the RCEF program steering committee, said he would want all the procurement activities related to the 2022 RCEF to be completed before the election ban.

“We will do everything that we must do, we will procure early. We will adopt this during our ManCom [Management Committee] meeting in the third week of November,” he said.

Under the Commission on Elections’ Resolution 10965, the release, disbursement or expenditures of public funds as defined by Section 261v of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) are prohibited from March 25, 2022 until May 8, 2022.

Existing rules stated under Circular 01-2009 issued by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) state that government agencies may proceed with their procurement basis without the issuance of the notice of award on the basis of the National Expenditure Program (NEP).

The policy was reiterated in Circular Letter 2010-9 issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), allowing agencies to proceed with their procurement activities, short of award, upon the President’s approval of the NEP.

The RCEF is an annual P10- billion regular fund that seeks to improve the domestic rice industry’s competitiveness by improving yield, reducing production costs and cutting post-harvest losses. The RCEF was created by Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the rice trade liberalization law, which deregulated the country’s rice industry, in 2019 and will run until 2025.

Under RA 11203, half or about P5 billion of the annual RCEF fund will be dedicated to the procurement and free distribution of farm machinery and related post-harvest technologies to rice farmers. The law allocated P3 billion for the distribution of high-yielding seeds, P1 billion for expanded credit assistance and the remaining P1 billion for extension services.

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