Press Release
January 5, 2016

Villar urges enactment of law extending ACEF

Sen. Cynthia Villar has urged the lower house to pass its version of the bill extending the validity of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), which expired last December.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, reported that before the Senate adjourned for the holidays last month, Senate Bill No. 2951 or the bill seeking to extend the life of ACEF was passed on third reading.

"In light of the ASEAN economic integration that took effect last month, the ACEF bill is one of the measures needed to help our farmers and fisherfolks improve their production and competitiveness," Villar said.

"I am hopeful the leadership of the House of Representatives will include this measure in their priority list for the remaining days of the 16th Congress," she added.

In pushing for the passage of the bill, Villar said strict guidelines will be put in place to make sure that only legitimate farmers and fisherfolks will have access to the funds.

"In our hearings, we were able to pinpoint the reasons why ACEF failed to deliver on its promised objectives. These lessons served as guideposts in coming up with a program that will truly work for the noble intention of improving the competitiveness of the agriculture sector," she said.

The bill amends Republic Act 8178 otherwise known as "An act replacing quantitative import restrictions on agricultural products, except rice, with tariffs, creating the ACEF, and for other purposes."

Under the bill, the fund shall be set aside and released to provide the necessary credit to farmers and fisherfolks cooperative and associations, and micro and small scale enterprises, for the acquisition and establishment of production, post-harvest, and processing machineries, equipment and facilities.

Eighty percent of the fund will be set aside for loan with minimal interest. Only P5 million per cooperative and P1 million per individual will be released strictly for the acquisition and establishment of agri-based production and post-production, and processing, machineries, equipment and facilities to achieve modern agricultural practices.

The loan beneficiaries shall provide a counterpart fund of not less than 10% of the total project cost, which may be in the form of capital outlay, labor, land for the project site, facilities, equipment, and salaries.

The Land Bank of the Philippines shall manage the credit facility funded out of the fund and shall determine the eligibility requirements and set the required loan security or collateral of loan beneficiaries.

Ten percent will be set aside as grants for research and development of agricultural and fishery products, and the commercialization of such, including the upgrading of research facilities of qualified state universities and colleges, which shall not exceed P5 million per project.

Ten percent will be used for the funding of a comprehensive and attractive grant-in-aid program for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and veterinary medicine education to be implemented by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

To ensure the attainment of the objectives of the fund, an ACEF Executive Committee will be created. It will be composed of the Secretary of Agriculture as chair; President of Land Bank; chairperson of CHED; representative of farmers associations and cooperatives; and representative of fisherfolks association and cooperatives.

The Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization will also continue to perform oversight function over the implementation of ACEF.

News Latest News Feed