THE Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) supports a bill establishing a credit facility for farmers seeking to become online entrepreneurs focused on agricultural products, according to a House of Representatives committee report.

“ACPC believes that (its) ongoing credit facilities and online initiatives are aligned with the proposals in the bill and thus could help in achieving its objective of making small online enterprises, including agri-based ones, regularize and operate their businesses efficiently under the ‘new normal’,” the House committee on micro, small and medium enterprise development said in its report Tuesday.

The report cited the ACPC’s concurrence that the credit facility and associated support services could help develop online enterprises in rural communities.

House Bill No. 7698, or the proposed Online Small Enterprise Support Services Act of 2020, seeks to provide capital and credit access for individuals seeking to operate online enterprises and tap government support services.

It tasks the ACPC to develop a credit facility for farmers and fisherfolk seeking to do business online, with the Department of Agriculture directed to help them find direct market access.

According to the report, the ACPC has an online portal for loan applications of small farmers and fisherfolk affected by the coronavirus crisis.

“The portal also enables interested borrowers to submit the required documents for the processing of their loans to ACPC’s partner lending conduits without face-to-face contact. The orientation on program loan details is also being conducted online,” the report said. “This online portal captures submissions from various regions and provinces. Nonetheless, a major challenge is the limited internet connectivity of farmers in many parts of the country which prevents them from accessing digital resources.”

The report noted that the Development Bank of the Philippines asked the committee to authorize the Small Business Corp. to establish loan products for online enterprises with annual sales not exceeding P1 million.

“To mitigate the risks involved in financing such enterprises, the participation of the Philippine Guarantee Corp. is likewise suggested,” the report said.

The House and Ways and Means Chairman, Representative Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, is the bill’s author. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza