January 26, 2016 – National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Dr. Florencio F. Padernal clarifies issues concerning its Irrigation Service Fee (ISF) collection from our farmers who are using irrigation facilities.
The National Irrigation Administration is authorized to charge ISF from the beneficiaries in national systems as payment for the services rendered in the delivery of water. It is pursuant to Republic Act 3601, Section 2, Paragraph C citing that NIA has the authority to collect from the users of each irrigation system constructed by it such fees as may be necessary to finance the continuous operation of the system. This authority was strengthened by PD 552 and 1701.
NIA is a Government-owned and Controlled Corporation primarily responsible for irrigation development and management of completed irrigation systems in the country, and as such, the agency has to address its operational expenses through internally generated funds from various sources primarily from Irrigation Service Fee. This will ensure operability of irrigation systems that would provide irrigation services to farmers.
Currently, NIA is collecting ISF with the following rates;
|Scheme||Wet Season||Dry Season|
|Cavans per Hectare|
|Pumps||5.0 – 10.0||6.0 – 12.0|
The ISF rate is based from the prevailing government price. At present the NFA support price is P17.00/Kilo. In effect, ISF rate did not increase because it is still peg at the rates as shown above.
Under normal condition, ISF are collected for yields with 40 Cavans and above. Farms with rice yields of 40 Cavans per hectare or below due to pest infestation, calamities, floods, water shortage and other non-human faults are exempted from ISF payment. But in cases where typhoons destroy the crops of our farmers a moratorium is given by the agency for non-collection of ISF.
Efforts are being made by the agency to further help our farmers cope up with the ISF. One of which is the Memorandum Circular No. 54 series of 2013 known as “Modified Incentive Policy in the Payment of Back Accounts in Irrigation Service Fee in National Irrigation System”. The policy simply states that NIA is giving incentives to farmers who are under National Irrigation System to easily pay their back accounts and penalties. With this Memo Circular, farmers are given the opportunity to pay only the principal of their back accounts (due and payable) accumulated before July 1, 2000. While from July 1, 2000 to December 31, 2013 the farmers will pay the corresponding principal and interest. This policy encourages farmers to pay their back accounts.
In terms of Back Accounts and Penalties, NIA reiterates that the agency is not authorized to address the issue of removing all the back accounts and penalties from ISF. The agency mentioned that the authorities to decide for condonation are with Commision on Audit (for the amount of 10,000 below), Office of the President (10,001 – 100,000), and Congress (100,001 and over).
The ISF being collected is used primarily for operation and maintenance of irrigation facilities nationwide and to finance the compensation of all NIA workers. Non-payment of ISF will result to deteriorating irrigation facilities and will have great impact on food production. The yearly budget given to NIA thru the GAA is used only for the construction of new irrigation systems, restoration and rehabilitation of existing irrigation facilities.
National Irrigation Administration is always committed to help our Filipino Farmers in attaining its goal for food security. The agency is not against the abolition of ISF this is why NIA Administrator Dr. Florencio F. Padernal created a group to study different irrigation practices from our neighboring countries. Dr. Padernal wanted to come up with a comprehensive approach to Irrigation Service Fee. The issues on what will happen to NIA and its workers and to the operation and maintenance of existing system facilities are the basic considerations in the abolition of ISF. It will be a rippling effect; one error can lead to another – the deteriorating irrigation services will not only impend the food production but will also threaten the food security in the entire country.
This is why the agency needed to consider all the possible outcomes including the long term effects on how abolishing the fee would impact farmers, NIA operations, and country. ### (PILIPINA P. BERMUDEZ, Department Manager A, NIA Public Affairs and Information Staff)