DA-ACEF to resume loans, grants, scholarships release

THE Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (DA-ACEF) will resume extending loans, initially to 16 new approved accounts worth P281 million, as soon as the transfer of funds to Government Financing Institutions (GFIs) has  been processed.

The amount is part of the P1.9 billion available ACEF fund which is allotted for grants (60%), loans (30%), and scholarships (10%).

This was the result of a special en banc meeting of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) chaired by Senator Francis Pangilinan on August 16, 2012 at the Club Filipino, San Juan .

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala agreed that it should be decided before the end of the meeting how the amount should be disbursed to small farmers and fishers who badly need the assistance.

“ACEF will start processing requests for grants and scholarships on September 1,” Alcala said.

However, as requested by the Department of Budget Management (DBM), the credit should all be consistent with the agricultural priorities of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

A moratorium for the release of ACEF loans was implemented in 2009 due to some observations of the Commission on Audit regarding the utilization of the fund.

Throughout the period, the COCAFM, along with DA and DBM, crafted a revised guidelines for more efficient fund utilization and implementation of the program.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the DA, DBM and Department of Finance will be signed before the end of this month which will clearly state the roles of each agency in the collection and determining the available funds for the ACEF.

The MoA will ensure that the collected MAVs will go straight to the ACEF and not remitted to the general fund of the national budget as what happened from 2007 to 2012.

To ensure smooth execution of fund releases, COCAFM will regularly hold a separate meeting on ACEF.

“As we start release, I’d like to have a regular monitoring once every two months so we properly ensure that we are going the right directions,” Pangilinan proposes.

He added that for the next three months there should be a monthly meeting to marshal the fund releases and ensure that the program is running smoothly.

The en banc meeting was also attended by Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza, DBM Secretary Florencio Abad, BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, and representatives from agricultural and fisheries industry around the country.

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