Poe seeks probe on DAR's billions worth of unpaid loans
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2014 - 4:47pm

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Grace Poe is pushing for a Senate inquiry on the use of Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) in light of reports that only P117.37-million has been paid out of the supposed P8.851-billion in loans approved under the program.

Poe has filed Senate resolution 549, noting that the growth rate in the agricultural sector remained steady at a little over two percent despite the efforts to improve the country’s farm productivity levels through the ACEF.

“Despite the previous pronouncements that the Philippines would have attained rice self-sufficiency status last year and that locally-produced rice would be exported, self-sufficiency target was pushed to 2016,”  Poe said in her three-page resolution.

The senator stressed that there is a dire need to focus government attention to agriculture as the sector currently employs 32.2 percent of the Philippine labor force, or 12.1 million people.

Had the ACEF program been implemented properly, Poe expressed belief that the ACEF would have helped farmers be ready for trade liberalization under the ASEAN economic integration in 2015, where goods and services will flow freely and with lower and even zero tariffs including most agricultural products, among Asian nations.

Poe cited the statements of Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala and Undersecretary for administration and finance Antonio Fleta during the hearing of the Senate finance committee on the 2014 proposed budget where the officials revealed that the total tariff collected from imported commodity due for ACEF is P12.26-billion.

Records showed that P8.851-billion in loans was approved and subsequently released by the government to government agencies, farmers, non-government organizations and the private sector.

Of the said amount, about P1 billion was borrowed and remained unpaid by the state-owned Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp (Quedancor), a state owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Agriculture.  Officials said P7.8 billion was loaned by the private sector.

Of the total loan releases, Poe said borrowers were only able to pay P177.370 million by June, 2010.

The fund releases through ACEF suffered a setback when 216 of the 316 accounts representing the loan structuring sought for a longer restructuring schedule in 2011.

The ACEF was established in 1996 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8178 as non-collateral, non-interest credit fund of the DA intended to make the country’s agricultural sector viable, efficient and globally competitive.

ACEF AGRICULTURAL COMPETITIVENESS ENHANCEMENT FUND AGRICULTURE SEC ANTONIO FLETA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE GRACE POE POE PROCESO ALCALA AND UNDERSECRETARY QUEDAN AND RURAL CREDIT GUARANTEE CORP QUEDANCOR REPUBLIC ACT NO
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