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Banking groups hope incoming administration can address economic risks, industry concerns

BANKING INDUSTRY GROUPS hope the next administration headed by former Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. can ensure the financial system will remain stable by addressing key economic concerns, including inflation and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have a generally peaceful and orderly election that is positive for the economy,” Bankers Association of the Philippines President Antonio C. Moncupa, Jr. said in a statement. “On the other hand, there are considerable headwinds facing the economy — geopolitical uncertainties, inflation, and the lingering effects of the pandemic. We wish the new administration well in meeting these challenges.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) said they are waiting for the next administration’s plans for the economy.

“Like the rest of the business community, I am interested to know the incoming administration’s detailed economic program and the credibility and competence of the new economic team,” CTB Executive Director Suzanne I. Felix said in a Viber message.

Ms. Felix said the management of the economy is important amid “ballooning debt, still elevated unemployment, and rising commodity prices” and with the pandemic still being a threat to recovery.

“Legislative reforms must also be pursued so the banking sector (especially private banking) is depoliticized,” she added.

Ms. Felix also hopes the next administration will prioritize infrastructure issues in the agriculture sector, including the lack of storage and farm-to-market roads.

Meanwhile, FintechAlliance.ph Chairman Angelito M. Villanueva said they hope the incoming administration will continue to create a “robust and sustainable digital economy.”

“Across all sectors and industries, may we achieve financial inclusion and shared prosperity through continued digital transformation,” Mr. Villanueva said in a Viber message.

For its part, the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) expects the next administration to pursue programs that will advance financial inclusion in rural areas.

“We hope that the new administration will understand that even with digital banking, there still remains a large majority of unbanked and underbanked and that rural banks continue to be the main channel for credit and lending in the countryside,” RBAP President Albert T. Concha, Jr. said in a Viber message.

Mr. Concha said they hope regulators will also reconsider its proposal to increase the minimum capital requirement for rural banks. The central bank wants to raise the minimum capital requirement for rural banks to a range of P60 million to P200 million, depending on the number of their branches.

“[This] is too high and is not reflective of the economic activity of some local areas where the rural banks operate in. If a single-unit bank raises P60 million in capital, our question is, what will it do with that much cash?” Mr. Concha said.

“A look at the GDP (gross domestic product) contribution of areas outside the big cities of Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and 1st class municipalities will show that there is not enough business activity to warrant capital requirements of that amount, especially of a single unit branch,” he added.

The banking industry’s total assets rose 6.9% to reach a record high of P21.41 trillion in 2021.

Meanwhile, the sector’s net profit jumped by 44.79% to P224.752 billion in 2021 from P155.218 billion in 2020. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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