NIA 4A gathered together on January 7, 2017 - a cheery Saturday morning, to warmly welcome the visit of the newly installed NIA Administrator Mr. Peter Tiu Laviña who brought with him DA USEC Evelyn Laviña whom as the Admin said is like a “buy one take one” for 4A as any question about agriculture can be answered first-hand coming from a DA official.
This visit is in line with the new Administrator’s plan to visit irrigation systems all-over the country to see the actual situation of irrigation facilities as well as to visit the regional offices and their farmer-beneficiaries represented by the Irrigators’ Association.
In this visit, Administrator Laviña captured the hearts of each one present as he presented his plan and program for NIA. With his Kuadro De Alas mantra, he enumerated his focus for the agency, for its employees and for the Irrigators’ Associations.
Kuadro de Alas - For the agency:
Free Irrigation – as Administrator Laviña said, this is an election promise of President Duterte which must be pursued for the benefit of our farmers;
Constructing more irrigation projects to Increase irrigated area – with the present 57% currently irrigated in the country from the targeted 3.2 million hectare irrigable area, while some area slowly being urbanized, Administrator Laviña declared that NIA has to exert utmost effort to make sure that the remaining 1.3 million hectare will be irrigated as soon as possible;
Harnessing of water resources for mini hydro-power plants in irrigation system that would serve both energy generation which would help ease the problem on power crisis and irrigation.
Institutional review of the agency in line with the plan proposal for a constitutional change which Administrator Laviña stated that a Federal System could happen in 2-3 years.
Kuadro de Alas - For the Irrigators’ Association:
No ISF – as President Duterte promised, irrigation will now be free for the farmers to at least ease their burden on farming expenses;
Further strengthening of Irrigators’ Associations (IA) – NIA will continue on its institutional work to boost and strengthen each and every Irrigators’ Association that can manage to stand on its own. Federation of IAs will also be pursued to empower them for future activities. He also announced the search for the Model IA Federation and Model IA to be given special citation and special support as promised by the Chinese government with their promised P4.5Billion assistance to our government, according to the Administrator.
Alternative to lost incentive (share on ISF collection) – IAs/farmer-members will be encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship - to be not just a farmer but a businessman as well, to increase income. Administrator Laviña also said that IAs are tax exempt and should carry out the process to claim this incentive. For other sources of fund for IA Operation and Maintenance, in lieu of their share from ISF, the IA can collect Annual & Monthly Dues, Membership fee, etc. suggested by the Administrator.
NIA in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) will join together to continuously support the needs of the farmers through the various program of DA.
Kuadro de Alas - For the Employees:
Administrator Laviña revealed to the assembly that since 2012 – NIA employees were left behind by other government agencies in salary increase, that is why some NIA engineers were pirated by DPWH who have a better salary scale.
With this, for his initial action, the Administrator shown his care for the welfare of NIA employees with another kuadro de alas:
The Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) of the employees’ union – the NIAEASP; and
The Performance Based Bonus (PBB):
Coordination were made by the Administrator with the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) to give due considerations wherein NIA performance has been affected due to a number of strong typhoons that have hit the country for the last couple of years. And with the recently concluded national election - election ban resulted to delayed release of fund, hence, delayed projects implementation/completion. As a result of his intervention, over-all NIA performance pegged to 75% to qualify for the CNA and PBB. He also asked NIAEASP officers to coordinate with the GCG about this.
The Salary Standardization Law (SSL) IV.
Administrator Laviña announced that the Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr. has already signed and submitted a Memorandum/Proposal to the Office of the President for the Support in the Adoption of SSL-IV for affected GOCCs. With the approval of President Duterte, this will mean that NIA salary scale will level-up to other government agencies under the SSL IV;
Viability Incentive Grant (VIG).
The VIG request was left behind and has been a carry-over from the last administration which was addressed to President Aquino. It was necessary to make another request, now addressed to President Duterte wherein Administrator Laviña has already signed and submitted it to the Office of the President. He also said that he already made a follow-up with the Executive Secretary, Mr. Salvador C. Medialdea.
With the full support of the Congress who sees the need to increase the budget of NIA, all the program and project proposals will surely be accomplished, all these for Rice Self-Sufficiency in the country.
As the Administrator said - Sa Suntok ng Pagbabago, Knock-out ang kahirapan.