Law to facilitate release of P100B coco levy funds passed in Bicam
The Bicameral Conference Committee has passed a bill that would establish a trust fund using the coconut levy fund, which aims to benefit the country’s 3.5 million coconut farmers.
The committee particularly agreed that the P100 billion coco levy fund, consisting of the P76 billion in Treasury and escrow accounts and an estimated P30 billion in assets, will form the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, which shall be used exclusively for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.
A reconstituted Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will also prepare the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, and manage, invest, and decide on the utilization of the coco levy fund.
But before the funds can be used, the Congress must first pass a separate law reconstituting the governing board of the PCA to be composed of six farmer-representatives, four government representatives, and one industry representative.
The Bicameral Committee also agreed that the funds will be released to the PCA at P5 billion annually until it runs out, which is estimated to be within 25 years.
The proposed measure provides for the utilization of the fund as follows: shared facilities program, 30 percent; scholarship program, 15 percent; empowerment of coconut farmer organizations and their cooperatives, 15 percent; farm improvement to encourage self-sufficiency, 30 percent; and health and medical, 10 percent.
On top of this, P10 billion shall be included in the annual appropriation of the PCA to augment the fund.