Press Release
February 3, 2016

Bill seeks to provide increased financial support to farmers, fisherfolk

The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to create a credit facility in the Land Bank of the Philippines to provide increased financial support to agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers and fisherfolk.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III, chairman of the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies and sponsor of House Bill No. 3785, said the proposed bill sought to mandate the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to allocate five percent of its regular loan portfolio to provide qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers and fisherfolk with financial assistance.

Loan portfolio refers to the total loans held by a bank or finance company.

Osmeña said the loans would finance agricultural products in accordance with the provisions in Republic Act No. 10000, otherwise known as the Agri-Agra Law.

The Agri-Agra Law provides insurance and financing loans to farmers and fisherfolk to improve the productivity of the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

Osmeña said loans under the special credit facility would have an interest rate equivalent to and not more than 75 percent of the bank's prevailing rates for loans to cooperatives.

Common and preferred shares of stocks will also be offered and issued to agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers and fisherfolk through their organizations, cooperatives, federations and cooperative banks, according to Osmeña.

"Agriculture, fisheries and forestry income as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined continuously from 20 percent in 1972 to 10 percent in 2014," Osmeña said.

"By granting our farmers, fisherfolk and agrarian reform beneficiaries improved access to credit, we hope to stem the decline in agricultural productivity as a share of GDP, and uplift the standard of living of our countrymen," he added.

House Bill No. 3785 was introduced by Representatives Agapito Guanlao (BUTIL Partylist), Teddy Baguilat, Jr., (Ifugao), Magnolia Antonino-Nadres (Nueva Ecija, 4th District), Fernando Gonzales (Albay, 3rd District), Fernando Hicap (Anakpawis Partylist), Noel Villanueva (Tarlac, 3rd District), Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA), Lilia Macrohon-Nuno (Zamboanga City, 2nd District), Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya), Anthony Bravo (COOP NATCCO), Rodel Batocabe (AKO BICOL), Victor Yu (Zamboanga Del Sur, 1st District), Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District), Cresente Paez (COOP NATCCO) and Christopher Co (AKO BICOL), taking into consideration Senate Bill Nos 447, introduced by Sen. Ralph Recto; 780 introduced by Sen. JV Ejercito Estrada; and 2090 and 2142, introduced by Sen. Grace Poe. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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