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Legarda: Rural Growth Through “Bibingka Economics”

April 14, 2013

Sen. Loren Legarda today in Isabela Province renewed her call for spurring national growth by enlarging the agricultural and micro-enterprise base in the countryside through a more effective implementation of the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, along with the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and the Barangay Kabuhayan Act.

In her visit to the primarily agricultural province of Isabela, Legarda saw a huge potential in income creation as the country’s top producer of corn in 2012.

“The Agri Agra Law which I principally authored could be more aggressively implemented and bolstered by a sustained awareness campaign among our farmers, the law’s intended beneficiaries,” Legarda said.

Legarda said the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act requires banks to allocate 25 percent of their loanable funds to the agriculture sector to finance the acquisition of work animals, farm equipment or machinery, seeds, fertilizers, livestock, feeds or other similar items for farm production.

Legarda said the law would ensure that there is “bibingka economics” or economic growth from the grassroots.

“Ibig sabihin mula sa ilalim ang paglago, na gaya ng pagluto ng bibingka, may apoy sa ilalim. Kailangan ang paglago ng kabuhayan, manggaling sa ilalim,” she stressed, referring to former President Fidel V. Ramos’s symbolism of the “bibingka” as the best path towards progress.

Legarda said the MSME law was enacted to help build up micro, small and medium enterprises nationwide and increase the incomes of underprivileged families, especially those in the provinces.

The law helps facilitate the access of micro, small and medium enterprises to sources of funds, requiring lending institutions to set aside for them at least 8 percent of their loan portfolio.

Micro and small enterprises availing of financing programs and incentives are also not required to undergo burdensome collateral requirements.

On the other hand, the Barangay Kabuhayan Law seeks to empower would-be micro entrepreneurs through skills trainings offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 4th, 5th and 6th class municipalities.

A report from the Department of Trade and Industry shows that programs for MSMEs have generated a total employment of over 920,000 from July 2011 to June 2012 alone. New MSMEs assisted or created reached over 180,000. About 76,000 MSMEs expanded their operatioms.