Tuesday, July 11, 2006

P469M Lost Due to Land Reform

Here's one interesting bit of news: Over a period of 8 years, the province of Negros Occidental has accrued a total of P469 million in collectible land taxes due to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The reason given for this revenue loss is the inability of most CARP beneficiaries to pay their land taxes. Read the SunStar Bacolod article by Erwin Ambo S. Delilan here and the Visayan Daily Star report here).

The above-cited reports seem to prove that agrarian reform has done more harm than good in Negros Occidental. By cutting up sucarcane haciendas into small parcels, you take away economies of scale, decrease farm productivity and foster inefficiency. After giving farmers land, our government pretty much left them to their own devices. Without capital and know-how, these beneficiaries soon had to indenture their land in order to feed their children.

I am sure there are a few success stories out there, but show me one succesful land reform beneficiary and I will show you a hundred who failed. Twenty years after the passage of the CARP Law, small planters of Negros and elsewhere are not better off as before. And the sad fact is, we can no longer reverse the current situation wherein CARP beneficiaries do not earn enough income from their land to pay taxes. Government just doesn't have the money to fund all these small farmers. And the people (or corporations) who do have the funds and managerial and technical ability to make agriculture more profitable are being demonized by leftist groups and some local media.

As they say - land reform is the perfect solution to a problem fifty years ago. Giving land to the landless may have worked during the time of Magsaysay but with globalization and international competition, Filipino farmers need not only "sipag at tiyaga" but also scientific knowledge and adequate capital to succeed in today's world. I guess we just have to add agrarian reform in the already long list of failed government programs in the Philippines. "Charge it to experience" as they say.

No comments: