Tuesday, February 18, 2020

My Thoughts About Congressman Joey Salceda's "The Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Financing Enhancement System Act"


My thoughts about Congressman Joey Salceda's "The Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Financing Enhancement System Act" started, realizing that I once lived with my grandparents during my childhood days, this gives me the privilege to experience and witness being in farm fields, and understand the rigorous process of farming. We may find it easy seeing it in our Farmville games, but it doesn't work as easy as that. It takes weeks of preparation before planting and much more days taking care before harvesting, and even before milling into the rice that we eat.

I even found myself once, immersed into a family of fishermen, it gives me a much bigger view and understanding of how fisherfolks breathe their lives and sweat day and night for their livelihood.

After having an evening of idea-sharing with the good Congressman Joey Salceda, his authored bills are impressive, and I believe it is what this country needs to govern it wisely. A reform or enhancement in the existing laws.

Most of my relatives and poster families are farmers and fishermen, even though the surroundings are naturally abundant still, they do need help or assistance in making those products reach the market. Finances are just one of the many problems they encounter that plays a huge factor in making that dream of growing their business - farming and fishing.


So, what does "The Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Financing Enhancement System Act" will do to these folks? The act is actually a component of the banking reforms the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas requested of Congress as part of its strategy to achieve the A-level credit rating for the country. It is to ensure that the banking services are accessible to farmers, however, Salceda has introduced enhancements to the proposal so that banks could also support missionary financial inclusion projects in rural communities.

Under the Salceda 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.

This is what I think, one of the common problems of our farmers and fishermen is getting financial assistance through loans, that sometimes end-up asking from third-party players. Making the land wealthy farmers bankrupt because of the piled unpaid loans. Forcing them to sell their lands.

Another problem is the hassle of opening an account in the banks. We all know that most of our farmers and fisherfolks don't have much documentation which is required by the banks.


“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. And because virtual banks operate at lower costs, mas mura ang loans na kayang ibigay. Virtual banking will grow even more accessible when my Virtual Banking Act is passed. Once that happens, my amendments to Agri-Agra will also help ensure that even farmers from remote communities can be included in the banking and lending system. Basta may signal – so let’s also pass the Public Service Act amendments.” Salceda added.

“The bills I have been filing are all interconnected. Social infrastructure, financial inclusion, and protections, improvements in the business environment – all of them are part of a vision that foresees the country’s emergence as a predominantly middle-class society, yung pati farmer negosyante. These Agri-Agra amendments are crucial, especially the provision on financial inclusion for rural communities.” Salceda explained.

Congressman Salceda is right, all of the bills that he authored are interconnected to each other and are needed by the country. In my opinion, probably you may or you may not agree, the last piece of that connection are the people. No matter how great the idea is if the people aren't open enough and ready to accept the changes they will just shrug it off.

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