LAOAG CITY — Tobacco production remains to be a lucrative venture in Ilocos Norte as various development projects and services continue to pour in for the farmers with the release of the province’s tobacco excise tax share.
“The long delayed share of the province has finally been released,” Provincial Board Member Vicentito Lazo confirmed on Wednesday.
Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan had earlier unanimously approved an appropriation ordinance for a total amount of PHP893,322,809 as the province’s share in the tobacco excise tax under Republic Act 7171 (An Act to Promote the Development of the Farmers in the Virginia Tobacco-Producing Provinces) for the years 2014 and 2015.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) predetermines the amount of the province’s excise tax share based on computation by the Bureau of Internal Review.
Unlike in previous years, however, DBM will no longer release the amount in lump sum. As part of the guidelines, the department requires local government units to submit their list of projects to be funded and if they are in accordance with existing laws, the amount will be released.
The amount shall be utilized for projects meant to increase the productivity and income of farmers.
Prior to the listing of projects for funding, farmers’ groups in the province and the concerned departments of the provincial government were consulted to determine the most pressing concerns of farmers, which need to be funded.
Since the enactment of RA 7171 in 1992, Ilocos farmers get a fair share in the appropriation of the tobacco excise tax.
The provincial government has used most of its tobacco fund to construct farm-to-market roads and rehabilitate agricultural facilities, including asphalting of roads and construction of new bridges.
The previous releases of the tobacco excise tax share were also used for the construction of communal irrigation system and the acquisition of tobacco barns and purchase of fertilizers and supplies for farmers.
The same fund, however, had put the Ilocos Norte government in the limelight last year when the House of Representatives found several anomalous transactions in the purchase of motor vehicles from the tobacco excise tax funds worth more than PHP66 million.
A House inquiry is underway, meant to craft a law that would safeguard the proper implementation of the special support fund under RA 7171. Leilanie Adriano/PNA – northboundasia.com