LGUs urged to prioritize post-harvest investments for agriculture, fisheries

Local government units (LGU) need to prioritize production support and post-harvest investments for agriculture and fisheries starting next year.

This was the call made earlier in the week by food security group Tugon Kabuhayan in anticipation of the full implementation of the Mandanas ruling, which will increase LGUs’ budget from just shares in “all collections of national taxes,” not only those collected under the National Internal Revenue Code starting 2022.

The group said all LGU should prioritize the disbursement of additional resources to support increased production and investments in post-harvest facilities.

“We suggest that 10 percent of the funds or P23.4 billion be allocated for this annually, especially in the countryside where most production is happening. The allocation can be adjusted once LGUs reach the desired production and post-harvest losses targets,” it said.

Increased production coupled with lower post-harvest losses will not only benefit the countryside. Done properly, metropolitan cities will share the benefit in terms of the availability of fresh, nutritious food at affordable prices, it added.

Tugon Kabuhayan said local producers are more than capable of addressing the country’s need for accessible and affordable food. Local producers just need facilities and systems that support production and post-harvest facilities that ensure that whatever is produced is not wasted.

In the case of fish, the group estimated that 25% of fish is lost in the supply chain and the biggest loss transpires in the retail market.

Under the Mandanas ruling, national taxes for inclusion in the base of the just share of LGUs includes the national internal revenue taxes enumerated in Section 21 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

It also includes tariff and customs duties collected by the Bureau of Customs as well as 50 percent of the value-added taxes collected in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and 30 percent of all other national taxes collected in ARMM.

According to the Philippine Council of Agriculture, the ruling will lead to a P234.6 billion expected increase in the National Tax Allotment of LGUs by FY 2022 based on computations by the Department of Finance.

“This favorable development has long been awaited by our LGUs. With more financial resources, the provincial governments, in particular, can significantly boost the delivery of devolved functions and better perform their role as the country’s ‘food security czars’,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, during the recently-concluded National Food Security Summit (NFSS).

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