Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol during a meeting with representatives of some banks at the Department of Agriculture office in Quezon City on Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo courtesy of DA)
DAVAO CITY -- Some major players in the country's banking industry have pledged to finance agriculture projects that are certified Agri-Agra Projects compliant, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
Piñol said the pledge was made by banking leaders, led by Ambassador Alfredo Yao of the Zest-O Group and the Philippine Business Bank (PBB), during a meeting in Manila last week.
He said among the projects that the bankers could finance are the Solar-Powered Irrigation Projects (SPIS), the farm mechanization program, “and even the completion of Farm-to-Market Road network.”
“The bankers said they have about PHP200 billion, which they could use to fund agriculture and agrarian projects to comply with the Agri-Agra Law,” Piñol added.
He said that during the meeting arranged by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Credit and Banking, Yao had asked him "How can we help?"
Piñol said under the Agri-Agra Law or Republic Act 10000 of 2009, all banks are required to allocate 25 percent 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,” he said.
Piñol said one bank executive had told him they would rather participate in funding Agri-Agra projects than pay penalties each year.
Aside from financing, he said that the bankers – who also came from the Chamber of Thrift Banks, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, EastWest Bank, Sterling Bank of Asia and Development Bank of the Philippines – backed the idea that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has submitted for the floating of bonds to finance its banner programs.
Piñol said the DA, through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) led by Executive Director Jocelyn Badiola, will submit to the bankers' group a list of Agri-Agra Law Compliant projects, which could be considered for funding. (PNA)