Transcript of interview with Sen. Cynthia Villar on the coconut levy bicam, rice tariffication, TRAIN 2

Q: On the coconut levy bill bicam

Villar: Actually, dalawa ang budget ng trust fund. Isa iyong galing sa coconut levy and that is around P100 billion pesos. It will be invested in treasury bills and every year, we will give to the reconstituted PCA to spend it as we enumerated where to spend it; like it will be spent on scholarship of children of farmers, their health benefits, and their shared facilities program and then their program to improve their farms.

Q: Senate version po ba ang na-approve?

Villar: Na-adopt ang Senate version and then it will be managed by a reconstituted PCA. Wala nang ibang ike-create na committee, just the reconstituted PCA wherein there will be four representatives from government, one from the industry and six coconut farmers.

Q: May incentives for farmers?

Villar: Meron doong farm development so lahat ng hindi mako-cover doon na iyon. Medyo vague iyon eh. So lahat ng needs nila, doon nila kukunin. Kasi iyong shared facilities is 30%, farm development is 30%, empowerment of farmers’ organization, 15%, 15% sa scholarship and 10% sa health benefits.

Q: May 10 billion on top…

Villar: Another budget iyon from the GAA that will go to the Philippine Coconut Authority. That’s the role of government in improving the industry. That’s P10 billion a year. Iyong P5 billion galing sa coco levy fund, they have more than P100 billion coco levy fund. So every year they can spend P5 billon until it runs out.

Q: How many farmers will benefit?

Villar: 3.5 million.

Q: When will be the ratification of the bicam report?

Villar: We will just have to write it with all the bicameral changes and then it’s ok. We have approved it in principle.

Q: Ano pa ba ang highlights?

Villar: Iyong ibibigay ng gobyerno na P10 billion for the coconut industry, 20% for infrastructure, 20% for shared facilities program, and then there’s planting and replanting and establishment of nurseries, for intercropping and then for research and development, for creation of markets. It’s all indicated in the bill and that should be followed by the PCA.

Q: I-invest sa treasury bond?

Villar: Iyong coco levy fund ilalagay sa treasury bills and then it will earn mga 2 to 3 percent a year. Idadagdag sa principal, basta ang gagastahin P5 billion a year.

Q: kelan po ang start?

Villar: Next year.

Q: To run for how many years and fund na iyon?

Villar: Kasi ngayon P105 billion ang pera nila, kung idi-divide mo iyon by P5 billion, that’s 21 years pero mage-earn pa iyon ng interest so ganoon din, 25 years.

Q: Saan kayo nagtagal, ma’m?

Villar: Iyong whether to create another committee or reconstituted PCA. Gusto namin reconstituted PCA para isang overhead na lang. Kasi mahirap iyong maraming committee, maraming gastos. So sinisimplify namin iyong management, para less ang overhead para lahat ng pera mapupunta for the benefit of the coconut farmers.

Q: May mga safety nets to make sure na ang funds pupunta sa farmers?

Villar: It will be subject to audit, COA. Yearly, oo. Lahat sila subject to audit. Remember, the PCA is a government organization, so lahat ng gagawin niya subject to audit.

Q: Update po sa rice tariffication bill?

Villar: Sinusulat pa namin. Kasi iyong rice tariffication, ang pwede lang nating i-tariffy is 34% in ASEAN. Ang biggest competitor natin ay Vietnam. Maski lagyan natin ng 35% tariff, talo pa rin tayo ng Vietnam. So in the rice tariffication bill, we will create a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and nangako ang government they will give us P10 billion appropriation for that, which we will use to mechanize ang ating rice farming. We will use this also to teach farmers to be seed growers ng inbred seeds. Kasi iyong inbred seeds, they can produce rice at 6 metric tons per hectare, instead of the present na 4 metric tons per hectare. So lalaki ang production nila, plus iyong mechanization, that will decrease the cost by 3.40. Kasi ang Vietnam 1.20 ang kanilang labor cost. Tayo 4.60. we have to reduce our labor cost through mechanization. With that, our rice farmers will be competitive. Then we will be establishing rice schools, to be operated by PhilRice and PhilMech all over the country especially in the rice producing provinces para matuto sila how to mechanize and how to be seed growers nung inbred seeds that can produce more rice per hectare.

Q: Sa TRAIN 2…

Villar: Ways and Means iyon eh. We will see what’s in there. We will be studying pa. I think they will change the name, Investment Incentive Act na yata iyon hindi na TRAIN 2.

Q: That is to make it more palatable?

Villar: Talaga namang they will review the investment incentives so why will we say TRAIN 2?

Q: That will be the version that will be filed by SP Sotto?

Villar: Siguro.

Q: Is it okay for you to remove incentives?

Villar: Depende. Kung ang tatanggalan nila ng incentive iyong maraming empleyado, medyo may effect din sa atin iyon. Ang gusto nating tanggalan nila ng incentive, iyong wala namang effect sa employment. Pero kung maaapektuhan ang employment, katakot-takot na naman…

Q: Iyong lowering of corporate income tax…

Villar: Iyon ang kapalit. Ibig sabihin, ilo-lower nila ang income tax na corporate dahil tatanggalin nila ang incentive ng mga industries. Ngayon kung ang cost ng pag-lower ng income tax ng corporate will result in reduction of employment, medyo may problema iyon. So we will see.

Q: You will ask the finance department to present it?

Villar: We will study, kasi we can do research naman on our own.

Q: What will it be called?

Villar: Repeal of the investment incentive law. Kaya sila nabigyan ng incentive because of that law, eh di rerebyuhin iyon.

Q: Iba pa iyon sa rationalization of incentives?

Villar: Iyon din, pareho iyon.

http://senate.gov.ph/press_release/2018/0801_villar1.asp