COCO LEVY BILL’S URGENT PASSAGE SOUGHT

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The long wait may be over for the thousands of poor coconut farmers and their families fighting for their right to coconut levy funds as the Technical Working Group for the Coco Levy Bill, headed by Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-Owa partylist, just finished deliberating the substitute bill calling for the establishment of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act. It was referred back to the mother committee for consideration and approval. House Bill 4286 authored by Garin aims to consolidate the benefits due to coconut farmers, particularly the poor and marginalized and expedite their delivery. As the bill mandates, the Presidential Commission on Good Government shall conduct a complete accounting and inventory of the coconut levy assets, including investments, disbursements and expenditures. Through a Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Committee, a Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan will be drafted to consist of a five-year plan that indicates the policies for development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry. Through the trust fund, it is expected to increase coconut productivity and income of the coconut farmers. Coconut remains one of the country’s top agricultural exports, earning as much as $1 billion annually.

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