NIA rejects calls to scrap collection of irrigation service fee
The National Irrigation Administration rejected calls for it to scrap the collection of the irrigation service fee from farms served by government-run irrigation systems.
Money collected from the service fees are used to finance the operation of the irrigation systems and pay for the salaries of NIA employees.
Business World said the scrapping of the fees for a limited period in the past rendered its employees without a regular source of income.
“This [fee] will ensure operability of irrigation systems that would provide irrigation services to farmers,” the NIA said. The fee is based on the farmers’ harvest during the wet and dry season. Farmers served by the NIA’s irrigation systems are required to pay the peso equivalent of two cavans per hectare of harvest during the wet season and three cavans during the dry season.
The irrigation service fee is based on the prevailing government price for rice. At present the NFA’s palay support price is P17 per kilo. One cavan is equal to 50 kilos which translates to a fee of P1,700 per hectare during the wet season and P2,550 per hectare during the dry season. The fees are collected only for farmers with yields of 40 cavans or more per hectare. Those whose yields fall below 40 cavans per hectare because of pest infestation, calamities, floods or water shortages are exempted from paying the fee.
The collection of the fee is pursuant to Republic Act 3601 that says the NIA has the authority to collect from users of the irrigation systems it builds to ensure its continuous operation.
The NIA’s P29-billion budget allocation last year was spent mainly for the construction of new irrigation systems and the rehabilitation of old ones.
The NIA collected P1 billion in irrigation service fees in 2014 that was spent on repairing water systems and for its operation expenses.