Villar refiles Coconut Levy Trust Fund bill
Sen. Cynthia Villar has refiled her bill seeking to create a coconut levy trust fund for 3.5 million coconut farmers.
Under Senate Bill 139 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, the Privatization and Management Office (PMO) will dispose of the coconut levy assets.
The Commission on Audit, in coordination with the Philippine Coconut Authority and the Presidential Commission on Good Government, shall conduct a complete accounting and inventory of the coconut levy assets.
The trust fund shall be used exclusively for the development of the coconut industry and the benefit of coconut farmers and farm workers.
It will be handled by a committee composed of the DA Secretary as chairman, the Secretary of Finance as vice-chairman, the Director-General of NEDA, the Administrator of the PCA, and five representatives from the coconut farmers sector.
The proceeds from the redemption of the Converted SMC 1 Preferred Shares, dividends declared, paid, or issued on the Converted SMC 1 Preferred Shares, and all income or interest derived from it and any other cash levy asset deposited in the Bureau of Treasury and the United Coconut Planters Bank shall form part of the initial capital of the trust fund.
It will be augmented with the proceeds of privatization/disposition of the coconut levy assets remitted directly by the PMO, and any and all forms of income, interest, earnings, yields, or any monetary benefit derived from it prior to the privatization/disposition of these assets.
The trust principal will be preserved and maintained at all times and will be invested only in Philippine government securities. Only the trust income will be used for the implementation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan and approve or disapprove the sale or disposition of the coconut levy assets.
The National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Energy, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission will be constituted as an ad-hoc committee that will prepare the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.
The PCA will be funded with not less than P5 billion annually by the General Appropriations Act, distinct from the coconut levy fund.
According to latest data, coconut lands comprise 3.3 million hectares of the country’s total farm area, higher than the 2.5 million hectares devoted to rice. Despite this, gross return per hectare was at a dismal P32,000 per farm per year.