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PPP: Practicing People Power

/ 04:10 AM October 26, 2012

The public-private Partnership (PPP) program of President Aquino will not happen automatically. For it to bear fruit, the private sector will have to practice People Power.

Why is this so? Those from the previous administration who benefited from massive corruption are not about to give up their illegal gains. They will oppose transparency and public-private partnership in governance. This is where Practicing People Power (PPP) comes in.

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Different PPP methods

People power is practiced not only through rallies, as we experienced successfully in 1986 when we own back our democracy. Times have changed. While they are still appropriate in some instances, alternative methods are more effective in other situations. These times, making effective use of our underutilized institutions can be a potent tool.

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What follows is an example where using the legally mandated public-private sector National Agricultural Fisheries Council (NAFC) can be very effective.

IRRIGATION PERFORMANCE

YEAR NIA  BUDGET (PB) PALAY

TOTAL       OBLIGATION YIELD (MT)

2007 11.18       8.24        16.24

2008 10.97       8.33        16.83

2009 17.55       15.20       16.67

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2010 16.48       14.11       15.77

2011 17.91       13.65       16.68

2012 24.5        ?           ?

2013 27.4        ?           20.04 (?)

For the five year period of 2007 to 2011, the National Irrigation Administration had a budget of P73.69 billion. They spent only P60.03 billion, or 81 percent, leaving P13.66 billion unspent.

From the P60.03 billion expenditure, rice yield increased from 16.24 million tons to 16.68 MT. This is represents a 2.7-percent increase after four years. It is not surprising that a December 2012 Commission on Audit (COA) report shows that, over the past years, there are still unsatisfactory findings regarding P80.4 billion in finished projects, and another P61.5 billion in ongoing projects.

Consider the P24.5 billion and P27.4 billion irrigation budgets for 2012 and 2013, will we agree to no private sector monitoring of these huge amounts? More importantly, the rice self-sufficiency goal of 20.04 million metric tons of palay for 2013, which is a 20-percent increase from 2011, is already very difficult to achieve. If the 2012 and 2013 irrigation budgets are not spent properly, the 2013 goal will not be possible.

If Public-Private Partnership is not occurring the way P-Noy wishes it to be, part of the accountability should be on the part of the private sector. If the private sector is the boss referred to by P-Noy when he said “Ikaw ang boss ko,” are we not expected to be assertive, rather than passive, in making this happen?

Private sector action

Last year, the private sector passed an NAFC resolution asking for private sector monitoring of NIA funds. NIA responded by creating a monitoring group of mostly retired NIA employees and current NIA personnel.

It took a year for the private sector to pass another NAFC resolution recommending a monitoring group of private sector personnel not connected with NIA. Last June, within 30 days of this resolution, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala acted decisively on this.

The next step is to get the necessary budget for NIA monitoring. Without this budget, little monitoring will be done.

In the past, Regional Agricultural Fisheries Councils were each given P1.2 million to monitor DA funds. But there was one year when they got nothing. A year after that, they each received anywhere from P200,000 to 300,000. Since the private sector did not complain, it stayed at that level. Consequently, the monitoring became ineffective.

Worse, even when they had the P1.2 million budget, according to the RAFC national chair then, the corruption anomalies they reported were mostly ignored by the previous administration. Again, the private sector did not do anything and no appropriate action on their corruption reports was taken.

Realization

The private sector must realize that there are some left in the government who do not have the commitment or capacity to carry out P-Noy’s goals. It is therefore the duty and responsibility of the private sector to practice people power by using established but underutilized institutions like the NAFC. These institutions should also be strengthened by the government so that private sector participation is not discouraged.

In the past year, NAFC has improved greatly under the leadership of Alcala and NAFC executive director Ariel Cayanan.

Regarding the budget needed for NIA irrigation fund monitoring, the Alyansa Agrikultura has recommended to NAFC, the DA and Congress an explicit provision for this in the DA budget. If not initially given, the private sector should practice assertive people power participation by asking for a reconsideration and argue its importance. It is only through practicing people power that we can attain the public-private partnership so necessary for effective agricultural governance.

(The author is chairman of Agri-watch, former secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former undersecretary for agriculture, trade and industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail [email protected] or telefax (02) 8522112).

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TAGS: Agriculture, people power, public-private partnership
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