THE Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship has approved a bill institutionalizing the development of the Bamboo industry, a measure backed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Senate Bill No. 1240, or the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Act, firms up the legal standing of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) and include in its membership one representative each from bamboo farmers, manufacturers and processor associations.

Currently, the PBIDC is operating under Executive Order 879 s. 2010, issued during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The DTI supported the proposal, noting in its Sept. 2019 position paper that the bill is “in line with DTI’s thrust to revive the manufacturing sector.”

The Council is primarily tasked to create the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Road Map, which the National Economic and Development Authority should harmonize all existing programs aimed at improving the Bamboo Industry.

The NEDA noted that at present there are on-going programs implemented by the DTI, Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.

It proposed in its September 2019 position paper that the harmonized program should consider “i) production and value chain of bamboo products; ii) research and development to address key challenges in the industry; and iii) establishment of enabling mechanisms to promote investments in bamboo industry.”

The measure will also incentivize investors in nursery and plantations, classifying such as a “pioneer” industry under the Bureau of Investments’ (BoI) Investment Priorities Plan for five years.

The bill also proposed to grant a ten-year exemption of nursery and plantation owners from payment of government share for use of public land; and exemption from other fees, such as forest charges and import duties for imported machines and equipment, among others.

The bill will appropriate P100 million annually for the Bamboo Industry Development Center, which will serve as the Council’s secretariat. — Charmaine A. Tadalan