Saturday, October 10, 2009

Philippines House of Representatives passes reformed Agriculture-Agrarian Reform Act

MANILA, Philippines - As the Philippines tries to recover from the devastation left by typhoon-spawned floods, the House of Representatives passed on final reading the Agriculture-Agrarian Reform Credit Act of 2009" contained in House Bill 6095.

"Government must promote rural development by enhancing access of the rural agricultural sector to financial services and programs," Nograles stressed as he lauded the collective leadership and each member for their diligence and concern in passing the measure.

Government, Nograles added, must continue to find ways and means to propel the countryside areas to become "exceptional agricultural and fisheries producers."

Approval of HB 6095, together with 12 other measures passed on third reading, took place even as the House plenary is in a marathon session combing the voluminous documents supporting the 1.5-trillion pesos proposed national budget for 2010.

HB 6095, contained in committee report 1865 and jointly endorsed to and sponsored in plenary by the Committee on Agriculture chaired by Representative Abraham Kahlil Mitra and the Committee on Agrarian Reform chaired by Representative Elias Bulut, Jr., mandates the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to impose administrative sanctions and other penalties on the lending institutions for non-compliance with the provisions of the proposed Act.

Principal authors of the bill are Representatives Jose Carlos Lacson, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Edgar Chatto, Rufus Rodriguez, Glenn Chong, Mitra, Eufrocino Codilla, Sr., Speaker Nogales, Marcelino Teodoro, Pryde Henry Teves, George Arnaiz, Victor Yu, Jeci Lapus and Maria Victoria Alvarado.

The measure seeks to provide and ensure viable credit facility to farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries, tillers, tenant farmers, settlers, agricultural lessees, amortizing owners, owner-cultivators, farmers cooperatives, compact farmers, agro-industrial enterprises, corporate farmers, small farmers and small fisher folk and their cooperatives to support eligible agri-fisheries activities.

The bill limits the modes of alternative compliance by banks to provisions of the Agriculture-Agrarian Reform Law which mandates a portion of loanable funds to agriculture-agrarian development projects, with mechanisms for review, the authors said.

They said the measure includes a review mechanism after three years of implementation to allow the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Agriculture and Bangko Sentral to assess whether the Act has achieved its declared purposes.

Likewise, it stipulates the imposition of penalties computed at one percent of non-compliance and under-compliance; ninety percent of which shall go to the Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool and the remaining ten percent, to the Bangko Sentral for administrative expenses. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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