A BILL filed in the House of Representatives is proposing to establish the Palm Oil Development Authority, overseen by the Office of the President, to gear up the industry for possible exports.

House Bill No. 8326 seeks to take advantage of the Philippines’ “wide potential area for the production of palm oil. The industry has in place production technology and best practices that can be adopted by the small holders/growers and new investors,” according to the bill’s explanatory note.

The bill was filed by North Cotabato Rep. Joselito S. Sacdalan.

The proposed agency will be organized as a government-owned and -controlled corporation with an annual budget of P100 million.

The bill proposes a governing board headed by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Trade and Industry.

The Philippine Palm Oil Development Council, Inc. and the Department of Trade and Industry’s Caraga Regional Office currently oversee the palm oil industry.

Mr. Sacdalan said the industry would prefer a more specialized and focused regulator.

“It is the desire of stakeholders, planters and farmers that the industry be fully developed/supported, as its economic potential/contribution to the country’s gross domestic product is high,” he said.

The Philippine Coconut Authority and several business groups in March launched an investigation over the alleged smuggling of palm oil. Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said smuggled palm oil led to P45 billion worth of foregone government revenue. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz