Halting irrigation fees to farmers cost P2 billion yearly: NIA head
President Rodrigo Durterte's order to stop collection of irrigation fees to farmers means at least P2-billion subsidy for the national government.
In a forum in Quezon City on Thursday, National Irrigation Administration chief Peter Lavi?a said Duterte's order took effect last month.
The "P2 billion a year losses" on irrigation service fee is on top of the "P13 billion back pay" or unpaid irrigation fees during the past years, he said.
"NIA is a losing GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation)," he added.
Out of 3.02-million hectare of irrigable lands for rice crops, Lavina said 57 percent or about 1.7 million have been irrigated.
But, he said, only 1.2 million hectares remain irrigated because other areas were used in real estate development or "urbanization."
He expressed hope farmers and the 8,100 irrigators association would share their responsibilities in operating and maintaining irrigation facilities.
Lavina said NIA is also expecting more projects to be funded by foreign donors, such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency and those from China and South Korea. Celerina Monte/DMS