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House passes coconut trust fund bill on third reading

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THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Monday a refiled bill creating the Coconut Industry Trust Fund, which Malacañang had vetoed.

House Bill 9197 received 159 affirmative votes, five negative votes, and zero abstentions.

The Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act is the refiled version of the vetoed House Bill 5745, whose counterpart measure is Senate Bill No. 1233. The original legislation sought to put the P100-billion coconut levy assets into a trust fund to be used for coconut farmers and the coconut industry.

According to the new bill, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) is required to submit a complete accounting of the Coconut Levy Assets as well as the investments, disbursement, and expenditures relating to the coconut fund.

The measure also requires that the trust fund be maintained for up to 30 years or until the fund is fully utilized. The trust fund will be for the exclusive use of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.

The Bureau of the Treasury is the designated depository of the trust fund.

The trust fund committee will be under the supervision of the Office of the President.

The committee will be composed of six representatives from the government; three representatives from the coconut farmers’ organizations, one each from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao; and two representatives from the coconut industry. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

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