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Congress approves higher DENR, NIA budgets

MANILA, Philippines —  The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will get a P40.8 billion budget allocation next year after it got the approval from Congress.

Next year’s budget is six percent higher than this year’s allocation of P38.3 billion.

The agency’s original proposal was P48 billion. Bulk of the budget or about P26.8 billion will be spent for the restoration, repair, and rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems, as well as for the construction and development of new ones.

NIA administrator Ricardo Visaya said the increased budget would be used to fasttrack and complete ongoing projects and develop and increase new irrigation areas.

“We want to increase the budget to fund the construction of our dams. We still have about 40.68 percent to be developed and we would like to fasttrack the development to help achieve rice self-sufficiency,” he added.

Visaya said the approval of the budget would allow NIA to implement large-scale new projects, conduct project feasibility studies and detailed engineering, provide adequate equipment support for operation and maintenance, and protect watersheds of big irrigation systems.

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Of the P40.8 billion, P5 billion will go to the implementation of the enhanced and expanded free irrigation scheme.

The Philippines has an estimated irrigable area of 3.12 million hectares of agricultural lands, while NIA has so far developed 1.85 million hectares or about 59 percent of the total.

This year, NIA is set to develop 23,115 hectares of new areas and restore 13,507 hectares.

By the end of the administration, the agency targets to fully complete the remaining 41 percent of the country’s agricultural lands.

The agency is hopeful that the proposed budget would also be  approved by the Upper House.

Congress also approved a P27.1 billion budget for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  This is two percent higher than this year’s allocation of P26.6 billion.’

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the increased budget would enable the agency to give vital support to the goals of the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan that the government has adopted.

 A big amount of the budget or about P7.1 billion will be spent for the Enhanced National Greening Program which seeks to plant some 198 million seedlings in over 200,000 hectares.

 As of June this year, DENR recorded a total 303,188 hectares of new plantations under the ENGP, generating about one million jobs.

 DENR has earmarked P1.25 billion of the proposed budget for its intensified environmental protection program to pursue clean water, air and solid waste management.

Another P1.08 billion has been allotted for biodiversity conservation and the scaling-up of its Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program.

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