Commentary: VAT subsidizes gov't rice support and palay program
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (13 August) -- President Arroyo has tapped into her "Katas ng VAT (Value Added Tax)" subsidy program to stabilize the cost of rice especially for low-income families even as the government through the Department of Agriculture works to ensure the country's rice self-sufficiency.
The rice subsidy is expected to reach P18 billion by yearend.
The rice support has enabled the National Food Authority (NFA) to sell well-milled rice to the middle-income consumers at P25 and P35 a kilo to pull down the cost of the commercial rice.
Meanwhile, the government through the Department of Agriculture has released a total of P908 billion for a program designed to increase palay production and guarantee food security for the country over the medium term.
President Arroyo's FIELDS program which stands for Fertilizer Irrigation and other rural infrastructure, Research and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post harvest facilities, and Seeds has so far released P1.3 billion for fertilizer assistance and subsidies; P3.15 billion for the repair and restoration of irrigation facilities; P694.74 million for extension services; P4.7 billion for farm-to-market roads (FMRs), for a total of P9.8 billion.
The DA is earmarking an additional P2.3 billion for flatbed dryers, which would bring up the total releases to P12.144 billion.
Under PGMA's FIELDS program a total of P10.85 billion in loans to farmers was released through the facilitation of the DA.
The FIELDS program is intended to make the country 98 percent self-sufficient in rice in two years. The government is targeting a palay harvest of 18.55 million metric tons next year and 19.77 million MT in 2010.
Palay production this wet season covers a total of 1.67 million hectares of irrigated areas, with expected yields of 7.5 million MT; and 907,877 hectares of rainfield lands, with 3.28 million MT of projected yields. (PIA La Union) [top]