‘House aims to hasten economic recovery by raising agri budget’


The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means said the lower chamber will push for a higher agriculture budget in the proposed 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to fight inflation and hasten the country’s economic recovery.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the panel chairman, said lawmakers are eyeing to raise the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) allocation by at least 10 percent.

“The economic fleet only goes as fast as the slowest ship. If we move agriculture, we move everything,” he said. “I think we can go [for] at least 10 percent additional funding although we probably need more and I’ll try to deliver more. We have competing budget priorities, but food is the most essential priority.”

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said he is optimistic that his agency would receive a substantial increase in its budget for 2022, which will allow the DA to hit its production targets.

Based on the National Expenditure Program, Dar said the DA’s budget for 2022—excluding the allocation for government-owned and -controlled corporations under the agency—is estimated at P72 billion, or just P1 billion higher than its 2021 budget.

Moreover, Salceda said “the agriculture budget is still much smaller than it should be. It’s a sector with [an] 8 percent output and 22 percent of the employed force, but just less than 2 percent of direct public expenditures.”

According to Salceda, he had discussions with Dar on the potential of the agriculture sector to resolve price worries and drive economic recovery as well as their local initiatives.

“We had a discussion [last Friday] on the prospects of the agriculture sector. I explained to Secretary Dar three observations. First, prices will go up as the lag-effects of low interest begin to show. The only way to mitigate that is an increase in the stability and volume of food supply,” he said.

“Second, as I explained in a long lecture as laureate of The Outstanding Filipino or TOFIL award, I am seeing signs of a financial bubble in Southeast Asia. You need something of a ‘sponge’ that will suck up excess financial capital. The most undercapitalized industrial sector in the Philippines is the agriculture sector.”

Third, he said, agriculture in the Philippines still has so many “self-imposed restrictions” on land size, efficiency, use, and ownership.

“If we can ease some of those restrictions while investing in its development, we can really boost output, far beyond the 2 percent per year sector growth targeted by the Department of Agriculture,” Salceda said.

“We already secured an 18 percent increase in the research and development budget of the national government. I am confident that the House leadership is convinced of the importance of the agriculture sector.”


Following the recent resignation of Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, lawmakers want the Palace to declare the P5.024-trillion 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) as urgent for its fast and smooth passage in Congress.

Salceda, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Eric Yap and Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, said they are now awaiting the submission of the NEP for 2022.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it is planning to submit the proposed national budget on August 23, days ahead of their August 25 deadline.

Under the Constitution, the Executive branch has 30 days from the opening of the regular session of Congress to make the submission to lawmakers.

Yap said his committee will start its hearings on the national budget three days after its submission to Congress.

According to Yap, they are targeting to pass the national budget on third and final reading by September 29 or 30.

Among the Covid-19 response efforts that will be sustained through the 2022 budget are the procurement of Covid-19 testing kits, continuous hiring of human resources for health, the establishment of the Virology Institute of the Philippines, and the continuous implementation of health programs in accordance with the Universal Health Care Act. In addition, funds for the procurement of the Covid-19 booster shots will also be allocated under the unprogrammed appropriations.

“We do not have any ounce of worry as we believe that there are many capable public servants who shall perfectly fill the shoes of a DBM Secretary and take up on the task of fulfilling the agency’s mission to lead public expenditure management,” Yap said.

“But regardless of who will be appointed to lead the DBM, I am very confident that the 2022 budget deliberations will be smooth as far as coordinating with the DBM is concerned and it will be passed on time with the able support of our colleagues in Congress.”

Velasco assured the public that the resignation of Avisado will not affect the upcoming budget deliberations in Congress.

“The House of Representatives eagerly awaits the submission of the NEP so we can start the deliberations on the 2022 national budget and pass it on time, much like we did last year,” he said.

Also, Salceda said the resignation of Avisado will “pose no risk to the early passage of the 2022 national budget, as Congress continues to work well with the budget department and its Officer in Charge.”

“To address the most important issue with this resignation, we assure you that this will not hamper the early passage of the 2022 budget. The Speaker and the entire House leadership is committed to fast-tracking the General Appropriations Act in view of the pressing economic circumstances,” Salceda said in a statement.

Bayanihan 3

Meanwhile, Salceda said that discussions on the national budget and a possible Bayanihan 3 are “going strong and well as if no leadership change has taken place.”

“From our perspective, the Budget Department is functioning with very little if any disruption. The DBM bureaucracy is very strong. Just this week, we have had talks with the economic managers, including DBM Officer-in-Charge Tina Rose Canda, to discuss what we could do to fund a possible Bayanihan 3. We discussed this in view of the need for possible ‘ayuda,’ other health interventions such as genome sequencing and additional testing, and more recently, the need to augment healthcare personnel.”

He said the lower chamber and the DBM will meet again this week to further study funding provisions of the Bayanihan bill.

“The first meeting was open and very productive. Offhand, it seems that we will need to realign from the 2021 budget. That’s fine; it appears that we still need the power to realign anyway, with all the ECQs being declared and requiring ‘ayuda.’ The government can’t just keep on declaring savings, and the dividends will also run out at some point,” Salceda said.

“The way I think we will move with Bayanihan 3 is that it bears some degree of particularness on ‘ayuda,’ healthcare interventions, and other key priorities. But it must also have some degree of flexibility in terms of the power of the President to realign funds, should any of the priorities need more money, and the others need less.”

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