Bill gives farmers access to cheaper loans

A HOUSE leader has filed a measure making loans to farmers cheaper and more accessible.

House Bill 6039 author Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House ways and means committee, wants to ensure greater access to credit in rural communities.

The bill intends to amend Agri-Agra Reform Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10000).

The Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Financing Enhancement System Act is a component of the banking reforms which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has requested from Congress as part of its strategy to achieve the A-level credit rating the country is pursuing.

To ensure that banking services are actually accessible to farmers, Salceda has introduced enhancements to the proposal so that banks could also support missionary financial inclusion projects in rural communities.

Under the proposal, lending to programs or projects that seek to make financial services like virtual banking available at little or no cost to farmers can be considered in assessing a bank’s compliance with the Agri-Agra Reform Law.

“Agri-Agra requires banks to lend a certain portion of their portfolio to farmers and fisherfolk. Of course, it has not worked to the fullest because farmers aren’t banked in the first place. High-risk ang farmers for conventional banks. Bukod diyan, malayo ang bangko sa bukid. Marami pang requirements kaya magpapabalik-balik ka. Siyempre, ‘yung iba, sa malapit na five-six na lang hihiram.” Salceda said.

“Fortunately, we no longer have to do physical banking because of virtual applications that allow you to open a bank account in your cellphone and borrow from a BSP-registered bank,” Salceda added.