opinion

A Tradition of Excellence

January 25, 2013

The Banker, a monthly publication owned by the Financial Times Group of London, held the Central Banker of the Year Awards to celebrate bank officials who “successfully steered their countries through the economic turbulence of 2012.”             Tetangco joined the ranks of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney (Central Banker of the Year 2013 for the Americas), Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Governor Fahad Al-Mubarak (For the Middle East), Banco Nacional de Angola Governor Jose Massano (For Africa), and Gov. Erdem Basci from Turkey (For Europe).             Basci was also chosen as Central Bank Governor of the Year 2013.             Our very own Tetangco has indeed continued the BSP leadership’s legacy of excellence set by the previous Bangko Sentral governors: Gabriel C. Singson, 1996 and 1997 Central Bank Governor of the Year (Asiamoney); and Rafael B. Buenaventura, 2001 Central Bank Governor of the Year in Asian Region (The Banker). In 2002 and 2003, Buenaventura was recognized as one of the world’s best governors with Grade “A” rating (Global Finance). Tetangco, for his part, was also one of Global Finance’s best Central Bank governors in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012.             Tetangco was likewise recognized as the 2012 Emerging Markets Central Bank Governor of the Year for Asia.             According to The Banker, the Philippines’ economy has performed strongly in the past year. Its growth in the third quarter of 2012 was the second highest in Asia after China, the London-based publication added.             “Ratings upgrades in the past year have put the Philippines just one notch away from investment grade—the level of Indonesia—which the country now has its sights on,” The Banker pointed out.             It added: “The sound monetary policy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and its governor, Amando Tetangco, has contributed to these improvements that have recently pushed the Philippines into the spotlight.”             To these praises, Tetangco replied, “We are proud to have contributed to the macroeconomic stability that our country now enjoys.”             The article also noted how 2012 was the fourth consecutive year the BSP has kept inflation under target—as inflation in November 2012 was only 2.8 percent (well within the BSP’s target of 3 to 5 percent).             “Such a benign inflation environment has allowed us to implement monetary policy supportive of economic growth, which was 6.5 percent for the first three quarters of 2012,” Tetangco said.             The BSP, according to The Banker, is presently considering lowering its inflation target range in 2015 to 2–4 percent. This new target range, explained Tetangco, should signal to the market that “we are serious about keeping prices low and stable.”             The Banker also mentioned how the Philippines has been recognized for placing importance on both the stability of the banking system and consumer protection.             Tetangco said of this in the article: “Our banking system has remained sound. It is growing. It is liquid. It continues to intermediate funds to productive use, and its overall balance sheet remains healthy.”             The BSP governor also added that in addition to their work along the traditional pillars of central banking, they have re-energized the Bangko Sentral’s advocacy on financial inclusion, financial education, and consumer protection.

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The need to save (First of Two Parts)

January 11, 2013

Just a few weeks back, we observed National Banking Week—a special opportunity that seeks to highlight the benefits banks provide to society.             National Banking Week, annually held every first week of January, enjoins all banking institutions and their branches to undertake promotional and publicity-generating activities regarding their significant role in the Filipino community, pursuant to Proclamation No. 2250 dated 10 December 1982.             This year’s theme is “Masaganang Lipunan, Bunga ng Salaping Iniingatan.  Mag-impok sa Bangko.”               The Financial Consumer Affairs Group (FCAG) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, in its weekly e-newsletter, stressed the need for continuing campaign efforts to highlight the importance of saving in banks.             Citing the 2009 Consumer Finance Survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral’s Department of Economic Statistics, the FCAG disclosed that eight out of ten or 78.5 percent of Filipino households still do not have a bank deposit account.             The survey further showed that 92.8 percent of that figure stated “the lack of money” as the primary reason for the absence of a bank account. On the other hand, the remaining 7.2 percent of the households cited the following: ·         do not need a bank/cash account (1.7 percent); ·         cannot manage an account (1.5 percent); ·         minimum balance is too high (1.2 percent); ·         do not like to deal with banks/financial institutions (1 percent); and ·         others not specified (1.8 percent).  Lastly, the BSP data revealed that households in areas outside the National Capital Region were found less inclined to open bank accounts than those residing in Metro Manila. “What people ought to realize is that saving money in banks is way more advantageous than keeping it elsewhere such as in piggy banks, in a locked drawer or cabinet at home, or through the traditional under-the-mattress approach,” the FCAG explained. The FCAG quoted the following reasons on why banks are important from financial websites www.topbusinessfinance.com and lawschool.unm.edu: ·         Safety—The bank remains the safest place to keep one’s money, according to FCAG.  Banks maintain high security facilities that protect a depositor’s money from theft and safeguard it from the elements and other disasters such as fire, floods and the action of rodents or insects.  ·         Interest—Instead of letting your money “sleep” at home, the FCAG advised, deposit it in the bank where it has the potential to earn interest. The amount you get may not seem like much, but rest assured that it grows over time and adds up very quickly (the FCAG referred to this as “the power of compounding interest”).  It stressed: “The earlier you start saving in the bank and if you continue putting more money in the pot, the better.” (To be continued next week)

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Saving in Banks (Concluded from last week)

January 8, 2013

 National Banking Week is held on every first week of January, and enjoins all banks to promote and publicize their activities in the local communities.             In an e-newsletter, the Financial Consumer Affairs Group (FCAG) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas discussed the need for continuing campaign efforts to highlight the importance of saving in banks.             Citing financial websites www.topbusinessfinance.com and lawschool.unm.edu, the FCAG noted “safety” and “interest” as the top reasons why banks are essential to us.             The bank, of course, remains the safest place to keep one’s money. High security facilities ensure that the money is protected from theft, damaging elements (e.g. rodents, insects), and disasters (e.g. fire, flood).             Banks also allow one’s money to earn interest, as opposed to letting it lie “dormant” in one’s house, the FCAG said.             Here are the other reasons why a financial consumer should seriously consider putting his or her money in the bank:   ·      Convenience—There are several bank branches to serve you so you always have easy access to your money. Most banks likewise offer complementary online banking services such as bills payment, fund transfers and e-shopping. ·      Credit—Banks can help a financial consumer establish and build a credit history.  They are willing to loan money to people with good financial standing and who manage their finances responsibly.  If you start that relationship with the bank, they will be able to work with you when you need help (e.g. obtaining housing or car loans). ·      Economic growth—The FCAG said that through banks, an ordinary depositor can help “pump prime” the economy.  Banks can “assist” families in buying homes, help small businesses to grow and thrive, and ultimately promote the country as a favorable place for doing business.  ·      Protection—Banks are highly regulated institutions, according to FCAG. The biggest safety net that you have with your bank savings comes from the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures savings of up to P500,000.  “Further, be secure knowing that the BSP, as the supervisor of all banks, continues to formulate policies and institute controls that protect clients and their money from over-profiteering or erring bankers,” the FCAG emphasized.   We should also be aware that there is an existing Memorandum of Agreement between the Bangko Sentral and members of the Bank Marketing Association of the Philippines (BMAP) regarding a special kiddie account program. The BMAP, comprised of the country’s leading banks, has developed the “Banking on Your Future (BOYF) Kiddie Account Program.” This new type of savings account encourages kids and schoolchildren to start the habit of saving regularly. The program allows kids to avail of their kiddie savings accounts with P100 or less initial deposit and to build up the balance to the required minimum to earn interest. Participating BMAP member banks include Allied Banking Corporation; Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc.; Bank of the Philippine Islands; China Bank Savings, Inc.; Development Bank of the Philippines; East West Banking Corporation; Maybank Philippines Inc.; Philippine National Bank; Philippines Savings Bank; Philippine Veterans Bank; RCBC Savings Bank; and Security Bank Corporation.

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Reaching out to the “unbanked” (First of Two Parts)

December 28, 2012

 From 2009 to 2012, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Annual Global Microfinance Index has ranked the Philippines as number one in the world in terms of policy and regulatory framework for microfinance.          The global survey looks at the microfinance business environment of 55 countries.          The Philippines is also consistently ranked at the top ten for having a good microfinance business environment, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) 2012 Report on its Financial Inclusion Initiatives.          The survey took note of the Philippines’ recorded material gains in transparency in pricing given the BSP’s issuance of improved rules on transparency and disclosure.          The survey also considered the initiative of the microfinance industry to establish the Microfinance Data Sharing System (MiDaS), a microfinance credit bureau that identifies delinquent borrowers with the ultimate objective of client rehabilitation.          “The Report on BSP Financial Inclusion Initiatives showcases the year 2012 as one that was characterized by the mainstreaming of financial inclusion in the domestic and international agenda in light of the growing recognition of the importance of financial inclusion as a policy objective,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said.          Espenilla added, “The Bangko Sentral has been at the forefront of global financial inclusion initiatives by continuously promoting and establishing an enabling policy and regulatory environment to increase access to financial services for all.”          The BSP Report noted that in the past years, the country’s central monetary authority has undertaken various initiatives toward financial inclusion, which include the issuance of regulations and the implementation of measures that expand access to finance, ensure customer protection, and promote financial education.          In 2012, enhancements to existing regulations and the creation of new issuances further improved the regulatory environment for financial inclusion.          The BSP has undertaken the following policy and regulatory actions to promote financial inclusion: •           Widened range of products: Microdeposits; Microenterprise Loan; Microfinance Plus for Emerging SMEs; Micro-agri Loans; Housing Microfinance; Microinsurance. •           Expanded physical network: Liberalized Branching; Micro-Banking Offices. •           Expanded virtual reach: E-money issuers; E-money Network Service Providers; Allowed Technology-driven Innovative Business Models. •           Liberalized customer on-boarding: Updated Anti-Money Laundering Rules and Regulations; Outsourcing Rules. •           Established framework for consumer protection: Enhanced Implementation of Truth in Lending Act; Adopted Market Conduct Regulation; Institutionalized the Financial Consumer Affairs Group.   (To be continued next week)

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