Sunday, February 2, 2014
A committee in the House of Representatives has approved over the weekend the Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation Bill, authored by Coop Natcco Partylist Reps. Cresente Paez and Anthony M. Bravo.
The House Committee on Agrarian Reform, chaired by Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, of the lone district of Ifugao, passed the House Bill 280, or the Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation Act.
CONDONE LOAN INTERESTS,
The bill seeks to condone the unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges of loans secured by farmers, fishermen and agrarian-reform beneficiaries (ARBs) from the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR); Department of Agriculture (DA); People's Credit and Finance Corp. (PCFC); Cooperative Development Authority (CDA); National Food Authority; and Quedancor.
According to the bill, a total of P3.7-billion inclusive of interest was released by said agencies in the form of loans to farmers, fishermen and ARBs.
Collections until December 2011 amounted to 35 percent or P1.7-billion.
Paez, in his sponsorship speech, said the measure is a win-win solution both for the delinquent borrowers who want to restore their credit credibility and for the government agencies who cannot write off interests, penalties and surcharges of delinquent accounts due to the limitation of the State Audit Code of the Philippines, or Presidential Decree 1445.
"The bill provides safeguards to avoid abuse by the borrowers,"
Coop Natcco Partylist Rep. Paez added.
For his part, Rep. Bravo said the passage of the proposed measure will spark countryside development, which will support the drive of the administration toward inclusive growth.
He added the government will not lose anything if the condonation program is implemented since only the interests, penalties and surcharges of delinquent loans will be condoned, not the principal amount.
Bravo said representatives of DAR, PCFC, NFA and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expressed strong support to the bill, while CDA and Land Bank of the Philippines have yet to submit position papers.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers said their other proposed measures that are still deliberated in House committees are HB 3409, amending the Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines, HB 3226 amending the revised charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. to increase the indemnity from 80% 100% of the actual value of the projected harvest of farmers; HB 283, CSO's Participation in Budget Deliberations; HB 2860, Phthalates-free Toy Act; HB2946, Freedom of Information Bill; and HB 2797, Creation of National Transportation Safety Board.
The House Committee on Cooperatives Development, chaired by Paez, and the Senate Committee on Cooperatives led by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., had already conducted joint public hearings in Cebu and Davao on Coop Natcco's pet bill HB 276, Reorganizing the Cooperative Development Authority.
By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz
Sunday, January 19, 2014
What is the Fiscal Year of your cooperative? January 1 to December 31, right? This is the reckoning period, or the period used in measuring your financial operations.
What is the Calendar Year of your cooperative? It starts during the time when your cooperative elects your officers. The General Assembly meeting for many cooperatives is usually held in late March every year, and the new term of co-op officers start usually ten (10) days after the elections.
So the calendar year would start in April and ends in March, when new officers are elected, right?
IS THERE A
Have you noticed that for many cooperatives, there is an apparent conflict with their fiscal year and calendar year? And this conflict breeds some complications.
Let me illustrate. Under the Cooperative Codes (RA 6938, RA 9520) many official acts of the cooperative need to be given prior approval by its General Assembly.
Among these include, but are not limited to, operational budget, development plan, declaration of annual interest on share capital/patronage refund, etc.
ARE SOME EXPENSES
But what happens is these have the fiscal year as cut-off date (December 31). However, they are usually given approval by the General Assembly in March of the following year.
Are the expenditures and other activities of the cooperative between December 31 to March not authorized, being not yet approved by the General Assembly?
It appears so.
What perhaps started this irregularity, if we may call it that, is the fact that cooperatives are allowed to submit to the Cooperative Development Authority their annual compliance reports (cooperative annual performance report, audited financial statements, social audit report, etc.) within 120 days from the end of the fiscal year (Dec. 31).
Cooperatives have found it convenient to hold their General Assemblies and annual elections within this period, when such compliance reports are ready for submission to CDA.
To some cooperatives who hold their Christmas Special General Assembly in December, they are able to get the mandatory, prior approval from their members for such things as developmental plan; operational budget, declaration of interest on share capital, etc.
However, Special Christmas General Assemblies, are now costly to many cooperatives, hence, they are now discontinued to cut down on costs.
The March General Assemblies continue. But the many important cooperative matters which should have been given prior approval by the General Assembly, are being implemented (at least for 3 months) without complying with such requirement.
HOW TO CORRECT
Maybe to correct this, the co-ops' General Assembly and elections could be held before the end of the fiscal year, say in December. The cut-off date for the operational data could be in September of the year, and the data for the next three months (income, for example) could be projected.
When data after December 31 are available, the reports can be adjusted, in time for the submission of compliance reports to CDA within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year (Dec. 31).
Does this happen in your cooperative? What can you suggest? Your comments are welcome. (END)
Thursday, January 16, 2014
If the plans of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) push through, there will be a revised training curriculum for cooperatives' officers and even the cooperatives' Pre-membership Education Module will be revisited in 2014.
This is part of the continuing improvement of CDA's programs, according to the agency's published report.
Schools, including state universities and colleges (SUCs) will be encouraged to be among the training service providers, to be encouraged and accredited by CDA. This is not only to expand the rank of training institutions, but also to "capacitate" the current pool of accredited training providers.
At present the field includes cooperative federations, unions, cooperative development councils, and government institutions with cooperative-related operations.
In 2014, the process flow and the service delivery commitment of CDA in processing the accreditation program for Co-op Training Providers and applicable fees, shall be included in the CDA's Citizen Charter.
The same will also be applicable to the accreditation program for External Auditors; Mediators and Conciliators; Arbiters; and Social Auditors, the CDA report said.
The guidelines on the Social Audit of Cooperatives; Accreditation and the Financial Reporting of Cooperatives will also be reviewed; including such standards as the Chart of Accounts, CDA cited.
To achieve this, CDA pointed out that partnerships with concerned institutions will be formed in the review of existing guidelines and standards or in crafting new ones. (END).
Monday, January 13, 2014
COOP NATCCO Partylist Reps. Anthony Bravo and Cresente Paez are seeking the establishment of a "Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Enhancement Program" that would provide grants to local government units (LGUs) to assist their hazard mitigation strategies that save lives and improve the structural integrity of property affected by natural disasters.
Rep. Bravo, the principal author of House Bill 2945, with Rep. Paez, as co-author, proposed "Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Enhancement Program Act," and said that the measure would provide LGUs with funds.
These funds will be for projects that have direct, on-the-ground impact for residents of low to moderate income homes, and also the less-addressed population of apartment residents and small business owners.
To qualify for the grant, an LGU shall submit an application to the Secretary of National Defense in accordance with regulations issued by the public official not later than six months after the effectivity of the proposed Act, according to Bravo.
"The eligible LGU must have a mitigation plan approved by the DND Secretary, implements public awareness campaigns to encourage improvements in structures to mitigate hazards relating to national disasters, and takes steps to encourage mitigation actions with respect to repetitive loss structures within the LGU's jurisdiction," said Bravo, who is also vice chairman of the House Committee on reforestation.
House Bill 2945 provides that an LGU that receives a grant shall carry out any repair, construction, renovation or retrofit assisted by such grant.
This shall be in accordance with the following: applicable standards of safety and sanitation; applicable codes, specifications and standards of the National Building Code; and safe land use and construction practice standards.
The bill further provides that of the amount appropriated for making grants in a fiscal year, the DND Secretary shall require eligible LGUs to allocate:
50% of the grant amounts to programs that address mitigation needs of single family housing units; 30% of the grant amounts to programs that address the mitigation needs of multi-family housing units and residential rental dwelling units; 20% of the grant amounts to programs that address the mitigation needs of small business.
The bill is now pending at the House committee on national defense and security, chaired by Rep. Rodolfo Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa) provides that the funds needed for the initial implementation of the proposed Act shall be charged against the DND budget.
After that, such amount shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) as a distinct and separate item.(END).
By Rowena B. Bundang
Media Relations Service-PRIB
Sunday, January 12, 2014
In support of the agricultural sector, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) is undertaking a number of projects in 2014 to benefit cooperative members composed of agrarian reform beneficiaries, farmers and fisherfolk.
In a report, CDA said that for these projects, it will go into strategic alliances and partnerships with Philippine national government agencies or with international organizations for cooperative development.
Under an existing tie-up with the Department of Agrarian Reform, CDA aims to complete by September 2014 a project involving capacity building for some 1,614 agrarian reform cooperatives.
As a result of this, CDA hopes that 80% of these cooperatives will later be issued Certificates of Good Standing from CDA. In addition, 248 new agrarian reform beneficiary cooperatives are expected to be registered with the CDA; and 745 cooperatives will be provided with audit subsidy.
CDA also identified the following partnerships for this year: 1). CDA and the Department of Agriculture for the organization and strengthening of farmers' and fisher folk cooperatives; and 2). CDA and the Philippine Coconut Authority - for a cooperative development program for coconut farmers; the CDA report added. (END).
Thursday, January 9, 2014
COOP-NATCCO Partylist Representatives Cresente Paez and Anthony M. Bravo have authored House Bill 279, which provides for the manner and date of election of sectoral representatives to the local sanggunians (legislative councils) nationwide.
The bill, now being considered by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, gives teeth to the 1987 Constitution's provision which states that "legislative bodies of local government units shall have sectoral representations as may be prescribed by law," the authors noted.
The Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160) has provided that the local sanggunians shall have "one sectoral representation from the women and one from the workers."
The Code also mandates "one representation from any of the following sectors: the urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, disabled persons, or any other sector as may be determined by the sanggunians concerned within 90 days prior to the holding of the next elections as may be provided by law.
"In 1995, however, Congress enacted RA 7887 which, among others, clarified that there is need for another law, other than the Local Government Code of 1991, for the conduct of elections for local sectoral representatives, thus, HB 279," the authors pointed out.
It has been more than 20 years after the Filipino people ratified the Constitution that gave them the mandate for local sector representation, but there is yet to be an enabling law that authorizes the election of sectoral representatives, the authors noted.
"The absence of an enabling law has frustrated the popular mandate for broader participation of our people and has diminished the democratization of our legislative processes," they explained.
HB 279 also provides that each qualified sectoral organization shall submit to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not later than 45 days before the elections, a list of those nominees ranking them as the first, second and third nominees.
The bill also provides for the qualification of sectoral representatives including rules and regulations on the disqualification of nominees, among others. -News Report from the PNA. (END).