THE Negros Occidental Provincial Board (PB) wanted to fast-track the approval of the funds needed for the El Niño phenomenon prior to the deliberation of the 2016 annual budget.
Board Member Salvador Escalante, chairman of the PB committee on finance, budget and appropriation, stressed this during the Committee Hearing of the Whole Wednesday regarding the Province’s mitigation measures for the possible adverse effects of El Niño to agriculture especially to crops and livestock.
Escalante pointed out that departments like the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) and Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) should, as soon as possible, submit their respective fund proposals to the PB to be approved through a supplemental budget request.
“The executive branch is expected to submit the 2016 annual budget proposal by October 15 thus, we need to pass the supplemental budget request for El Niño ahead,” Escalante said.
He said that by the time the annual budget is in, the PB will have to focus on its deliberation.
Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan presented during the hearing OPA’s action plan for El Niño with an allocation of P403 million, which includes budget for crop insurance and cloud seeding operation.
The PB, however, asked Tabianan to categorize the budget proposal according to priority level.
“We may not be able to bankroll the P403-million proposed fund, so he has to prioritize those urgently needed like seedlings, irrigation pumps and for maintenance,” Escalante said.
Tabianan, on the other hand, has assured the PB to submit the revised version of action plan as soon as possible.
Moreover, Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena said on top of the P8 million existing calamity fund, he is requesting an additional P3 million for Information, Education and Communication materials, silage making and medical mission.
In terms of livestock, Decena reported that those pasture areas in the province like of Calatrava and Kabankalan City with low rainfall are the most susceptible to El Niño’s worsening effects.
The Province has no problem with the additional P3 million request of the PVO, since it is very doable, Escalante said, as he noted that all funds needed for El Niño will come from the five percent disaster and calamity fund of the Provincial Government.
If additional fund is needed, the province can source this out from its savings and general fund, he added.
Also attending the hearing were the Provincial Engineering Department having only minor fund request for household water pumps, and the National Food Authority which expressed assurance that the province's rice supply is still in "comfortable level," meaning sufficient even with the onset of El Niño.
For his part, Board Member Victor Javellana, chairman of the PNB committee on agriculture, encouraged every department to efficiently utilize the fund, so that remaining resources can be used for future and other important needs. (EPN)