Congress is encouraged to approve a bill to excuse debts from agrarian reform.
A House leader stated on Monday that Congress should pass legislation addressing this issue as the anticipated passage of an executive order imposing a moratorium on payments of amortization fees and interest loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) is a “signal.”
The executive order will be signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday. It will treat “one of the most visible self-inflicted wounds” in the Philippine agriculture industry, according to Joey Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.
It is historic since it is the first significant Executive Order that the PBBM will issue for farmers, according to Salceda. And it gives Congress a clear indication of the President’s direction to take this. He is sincere when he speaks in the SONA (State of the Nation Address). A statute forgiving the PHP58 billion in ARB obligations must be passed.
The Salceda proposal would forgive the PHP58 billion in agrarian reform debts owed by 654,000 recipients of the program, totaling 1.18 million hectares of allocated land.
According to Salceda, the signing of this EO would indicate that the Marcos administration prioritizes enhancing farmers’ financial well-being.
“With this EO, PBBM is demonstrating the power of his 59 percent mandate, which is largely the result of his focus on farmer and rural development. Politically speaking, things that were not feasible back then are now. With this EO, he conveys that message “said Salceda.
He stated that the House committee on agrarian reform is scheduled to discuss the idea on Wednesday.
“The debt was 42 billion PHP when I first suggested it. It is currently PHP 58 billion. The debt didn’t even decrease; it actually rose. Therefore, these loans are bad. According to Salceda, these are limiting economic output and the effective use of land.
He argued that the harm in not doing it at the time was the “stagnation” of the agricultural sector, saying that the cost is the condonation of an unrecoverable asset, which is the bad loans.
These loans are zombies. We also have zombie farms, which are vacant rural properties that no one is farming even though they have previously been granted to the tenants because the owners cannot use the land as collateral for farm loans or sell it to better farmers, “said he.
According to him, the legislation will open the door for more effective use of the nation’s agricultural resources, including increased farm consolidation that will produce economies of scale.
The concept will enable ARBs to merge their properties into cooperatives or farmer corporations or lease their property to more productive farmers.
According to him, the Department of Agriculture will have programs to facilitate farm consolidation, creating greater prospects for increased government support for ARBs.
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