By Charissa Luci-Atienza
President Duterte has been urged to certify as urgent the passage of a bill mandating banking institutions to strengthen the financing system for agricultural, fisheries and rural development in the country.
Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries sought the presidential certification of House Bill 5681 or the proposed “Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Financing Enhancement System Act”. The bill was unanimously passed by his panel on December 18, Wednesday before Congress adjourned session for month-long Christmas break.
“I will ask the President to certify this as urgent,” Cua said in an interview, after his panel approved the bill.
He said President Duterte’s economic managers rallied behind the passage of the bill, which seeks to promote rural development by enhancing access of rural communities, agricultural and fisheries households to financial services and programs.
“I have asked the support of the economic managers and they agreed for the President to certify the bill as urgent,” Cua said.
He expressed hope that when Congress resumes sessions on January 20 next year, the plenary deliberations on the bill would jumpstart.
He said they are eyeing the plenary approval of the bill next year, and the presidential certification would help expedite its swift passage.
“Based on our calculation, all processes will be completed, and this bill will be passed next year, ” the House leader said.
Cua maintained that HB 5681 was a product of “many consultations” with the presidents of banks, Department of Finance (DOF), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
HB 5681 seeks to set up an agricultural, fisheries and rural financing system to improve the welfare, competitiveness, income and productivity of the rural community beneficiaries, particularly the farmers, fisherfolk, agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Under the bill, agricultural, fisheries and rural financing shall consist of loans, investments and grants to finance activities that shall enhance productivity and competitiveness, as well as sustainable development of rural communities.
The bill mandates all banking institutions, whether government to private, except newly-established banks for a period of five years from the date of commencement of the banks’ operations, to set aside a credit quota, or a minimum mandatory agricultural and fisheries financing requirement of at least 25 percent of their loanable funds.
HB 5681 tasks the BSP to define the total loanable funds generated by a banking institution.
The bill calls for the creation of P10-billion Agribusiness Management Capacity and Institution-Building Fund (AMCIBF) to finance agricultural and fishery-related capacity and institution-building programs of rural cooperatives and other duly-registered organisations of rural agricultural and fisheries households.
Cua said the initial contributions to the AMCIBF “shall include penalties due from banks on their compliance or under compliance with the mandatory Agri-Agra credit requirements under Republic Act No. 10000, collected after the effectivity of the proposed Act, the net of the ten percent amount to be retained by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).”
“The said amount shall not be less than P10 billion. Any shortfall shall be contributed by the banks,” he said.
During the panel deliberation last Wednesday, Maria Cynthia Sison of the BSP relayed to the panel that they have collected P7.35 billion in penalties, and they have yet to collect P4.86 billion “until the end of 2019.”
Under HB 5681, the AMCIBF shall be managed by the Agricultural and Fisheries Capacity Building Finance Policy Council (AFCFPC), chaired by Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Sitting at the Council are the BSP, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), DOF, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) , Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and 11 representatives from the private sector.
The Council is tasked to set targets for annual contributions to the special fund to be committed by banks in an amount that is sufficient to meet the organisational and the capacity building requirements of the rural cooperatives and other duly-registered organisations of rural agricultural and fisheries households over a period of 10 years. It is expected to identify eligible grant recipients of the special fund and the programs that maybe financed by the AMCIB.
HB 5681 tasks the BSP to impose administrative sanctions and other penalties on lending institutions for violation of any of the provisions of the proposed Act. Penalties on noncompliance or under compliance shall be computed at one-half of one percent (0.50 percent) of noncompliance or under compliance, or at any rates prescribed by the BSP Monetary Bard.
Upon collection of the penalties, the BSP shall remit it to the AFCFPC for deposit to the AMCIBF. Ten percent of the penalties collected shall be retained by the BSP to cover administrative expenses, the bill said.
The bill mandates the BSP and AFCFPC to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act within 90 days after the approval of the proposed Act.