A COMMITTEE in the House of Representatives has approved over the weekend the Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation bill.
The House Committee on Agrarian Reform chaired by Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, of the lone district of Ifugao, passed the House Bill (HB) 280 or the Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation Act authored by Party-list Reps. Cresente Paez and Anthony Bravo of Coop-Natcco, which seeks to condone the unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges of loans secured by farmers, fishermen and agrarian-reform beneficiaries (ARBs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA), People’s Credit and Finance Corp. (PCFC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), National Food Authority (NFA) and Quedancor.
According to the bill, a total of P3.7 billion inclusive of interest was released by said agencies in form of loans to farmers, fishermen and ARBs. Collections until December 2011 amounted to 35 percent or P1.7 billion.
Paez, in his sponsorship speech, said the measure is a win-win solution both for the delinquent borrowers who want to restore their credit credibility and for the government agencies who cannot write off interests, penalties and surcharges of delinquent accounts due to the limitation of the State Audit Code of the Philippines or Presidential Decree 1445.
“The bill provides safeguards to avoid abuse by the borrowers,” he added.
For his part, Bravo said the passage of the proposed measure will spark countryside development, which will support the drive of the administration toward inclusive growth.
He added the government will not lose anything if the condonation program is implemented since only the interests, penalties and surcharges of delinquent loans will be condoned, not the principal amount.
Bravo said representatives of the DAR, PCFC, NFA and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expressed strong support to the bill, while CDA and Land Bank of the Philippines have yet to submit position papers.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers said their other proposed measures that are still deliberated in House committees are HB 3409 Amending the National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines, HB 3226 Amending the Revised Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. to increase the indemnity to 80 percent to 100 percent of the actual value of the projected harvest of farmers, HB 283 CSOs Participation in Budget deliberations, HB 2860 Phthalates-free Toy Act, HB 2946 Freedom of Information Bill and HB 2797 Creation of National Transportation Safety Board.
The House Committee on Cooperatives Development chaired by Paez and the Senate Committee on Cooperatives led by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has already conducted joint public hearings in Cebu and Davao on Coop-Natcco’s pet bill HB 276 Reorganizing the Cooperative Development Authority.