Home Economy DBM Allocates P455.58 Million to Enhance Rice Production in the PhilippinesWestern Visayas...

DBM Allocates P455.58 Million to Enhance Rice Production in the PhilippinesWestern Visayas Sees Significant Drop in Inflation Rate

MANILA — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released a substantial amount of approximately PHP455.58 million to support the operational needs of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) for the initial quarter of 2024. This financial provision aims to bolster the productivity and competitiveness of the nation's rice sector.

According to Philippines News Agency, the allocation was approved on January 29 by Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, who signed off on the Notices of Cash Allocation (NCAs) totaling PHP431.79 million to be distributed among the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the LandBank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). These funds are designated for various components and programs under the RCEP, with PhilRice receiving PHP178.141 million, LandBank getting PHP133.648 million, and DBP allocated PHP120 million.

In addition to the PHP431.79 million earmarked for these three agencies, an additional NCA worth PHP23.79 million was approved on January 26 to fulfill the DA's operational cash requirements for the same period. Out of this, PHP10.972 million was released to the DA-Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and PHP12.823 million to the DA - Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech).

Secretary Pangandaman emphasized the administration's commitment to enhancing local agricultural production to achieve the goal of food security under the Marcos administration. The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), as this initiative is known, is designed to improve the income and efficiency of local rice farmers through the provision of farm machinery and equipment, rice seed development, propagation, and promotion, expanded rice credit assistance, and rice extension services.

The funding mechanism for the RCEF is established under Republic Act (RA) 11203, which sets aside an annual appropriation of PHP10 billion for six years post-law approval. These funds are to be directly disbursed to the implementing agencies based on the rice industry roadmap's objectives and plans. RA 11203 also specifies the allocation of the fund: 50 percent for rice farm equipment grants, 30 percent for inbred rice seed development, 10 percent for credit facilities with favorable terms for rice farmers and cooperatives, and the remaining 10 percent for extension services by various agencies including PhilMech, PhilRice, ATI, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to enhance rice farming skills nationwide.

ILOILO CITY — In Western Visayas, the inflation rate has shown a notable decrease, reaching 2 percent in January from 3.2 percent in December 2023, as per the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

According to Philippines News Agency, PSA Western Visayas chief statistical specialist, this rate is the lowest recorded since November 2019, when inflation stood at 1.3 percent, and significantly down from the 10.3 percent rate in January 2023.

Amolar, in an interview on Tuesday, highlighted that the current inflation rate in the region is even lower than the national average, also at 2 percent. "The downward trend will have an effect on the purchasing power of our peso. Meaning, the value of our money will be higher," she explained. The primary factor driving the decrease in inflation is the drop in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, which fell to a 4.2 percent rate last month from 7 percent in December 2023.

Other contributing factors include the slow movement in prices across various sectors such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco; furnishings, household equipment, and routine maintenance; health; transport; information and communication; recreation, sport, and culture; restaurants and accommodation services; and financial services. Among the food groups, only cereals saw an increase in inflation, while all other categories trended downward.

Amolar attributed the decline in inflation to the concerted efforts of the government to address the issue. "Government agencies performed a lot to minimize the inflation," she stated. The PSA data further revealed that all highly urbanized cities and provinces within the region experienced a deceleration in inflation rates, with Iloilo City recording a -1.1 percent inflation rate in January, improving from -0.7 percent in December last year.

Among the provinces, Guimaras recorded the highest inflation rate at 4.6 percent, while Iloilo province had the lowest at 1.2 percent. Amolar expressed optimism about the economic outlook based on these figures, stating, "It is a good sign that the economy is doing well."