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Private banks offer P200-B to fund agri-agra projects

AGRICULTURE • 17:49 PM Wed Feb 13, 2019
Manny Piñol
Bank executives meet with Agri Sec. Emmanuel Pinol.

MANILA - The country's private banks, including a government bank and thrift banks, have offered to provide funding to the banner projects of the Department of Agriculture (DA), including the Solar-Powered Irrigation Projects (SPIS), the farm mechanization program and even the completion of Farm-to-Market Road network.In a meeting held at the Office of the Agriculture Secretary yesterday, the bankers, led by Alfredo Yao of Zest-O Group of Companies, said they have about P200-B which they could use to fund Agriculture and Agrarian Projects to comply with the Agri-Agra Law.The Agri-Agra Law or Republic Act 10000 enacted in 2009 requires all banks in the country to allocate 25% of their loan funds for Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Projects.Since its enactment, however, the utilization of the loan funds has been very low and banks were forced to pay penalties. How can we help?, Yao asked yesterday at the start of the meeting which was arranged by Eastern Samar Congressman Ben Evardone who chairs the House Committee on Credit and Banking.The bankers said they fully supported the idea earlier submitted by the DA for the floating of bonds to finance the banner programs of the agriculture sector.The bank executives said they are also open to funding projects which would be certified by the government as Agri-Agra Law compliant. We prefer to participate by funding Agri-Agra Projects rather than pay fines and penalties every year, Suzanne I. Felix, Executive Director of the Chamber of Thrift Banks said.Among those represented in yesterday's initial meeting were the Zest-O Group, the Chamber of Thrift Banks, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, EastWest Bank, Sterling Bank of Asia and Development Bank of the Philippines.From the DA side, Undersecretary for Finance Francisco Villano, Asst. Secretary Andrew Villacorta, Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Executive Director Jocelyn Badiola and Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. President Jovy Bernabe were present.It was agreed during the meeting that DA-ACPC will submit to the bankers' group a list of Agri-Agra Law Compliant projects which could be considered for funding.

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