DAVAO City – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has created a special team to help people access available financing or grants from the government.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the initiative is part of MinDA's preparation for the post coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) Recovery Program and a support program for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BPBPP) pushed
by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.
He said the program will be known as "Assistance in Loan Access for Livelihood and Agriculture Industries (ALALAI)", which will provide free facilitation services to farmers, fisherfolk, and women who would like to start a small business.
The MinDA ALALAI Special Team will determine and identify the various government loans, emergency assistance, and grants program per agency. It will also undertake an information drive both through the mainstream media and social media and face-to-face interaction to inform the public of the loan and assistance programs.
“It will also assist prospective applicants in the preparation of the feasibility and financial studies and other loan documents and link up prospective loans and grants beneficiaries with the banks or agencies with lending or financial assistance programs,” he said.
Piñol added that a separate team will later be formed to closely monitor and supervise the implementation of the projects funded under the ALALAI Program.
He noted that billions of pesos in government assistance and loan funds for livelihood and other economic activities are virtually gathering molds in bank vaults due to lack of borrowers.
Among the government assistance which, he said, were not fully utilized are the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of the Department of Labor (DOLE) livelihood assistance.
He pointed out that ACEF which is collected by the government from the importation of agricultural products offers a PHP1 million loan to individuals and PHP5 million to cooperatives and associations involved in agriculture and fisheries at a very low interest rate of two percent.
The OWWA, on the other hand, offers livelihood assistance for returning OFWs so they could start a business and settle down in the country for good.
He added that the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies, like the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and even the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have funds, both for individual farmers and fishermen, and local government units with very low access rates.
“There are two main reasons why these funds are not fully utilized -- one is most people do not know about the programs. And even if they know there are such programs, the voluminous documentary requirements are so tough that the ordinary farmer and fisherman would rather go to the 5-6 lenders to borrow money,” Piñol added. (PNA)
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