Budget chief: Slow agriculture output should not be blamed on DA's budget

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 30) — Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Thursday the agriculture sector's slow growth output should not be blamed on the Department of Agriculture (DA)'s budget.

Diokno said the sector's performance has little to do with the DA's budget which has been reduced from P55.7 billion in 2018 to P49.8 billion in the 2019 proposed budget.

He added the DA has not even been able to fully utilize its previous budgets, and the agriculture sector's output depends more on how the agency implements its programs.

"Alam nila yun na very slow ang kanilang utilization. In fact yung credit, ang laki ng pera nila na nakadeposito sa Landbank, hindi gumagalaw," the Budget chief said.

[Translation: They know that they have slow utilization. In fact, their credit in LandBank is huge and it is not liquid.]

Data from the DBM shows that in 2017, the DA's disbursement rate was at 55.1 percent. In 2018, it stood at 66.2 percents.

"Kung bibigyan pa namin sila, di na nga nila magamit yung budget nilatapos bibigyan pa namin ng mas mataas na budget.. Eh hindi na nila magagastos yan," Diokno said in his regular press briefing Friday.

[Translation: Maybe around 55 percent which means if we give them more, they do not use their budget and we give them more, then they wouldn't spend it.]

Diokno said this should be a wake-up call for them to fasttrack their programs, as the sector's output depends on implementing these projects.

In 2018, the agriculture sector posted a meager 0.3 percent growth.