THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) are looking to extend the Strengthening Program for Rural Banks (SPRB) Plus for one final year in 2015, a senior monetary official said on Wednesday.
At the general meeting of members of the Chamber of Thrift Banks in Makati City on Wednesday, BSP Deputy Governor for the Supervision and Examination Sector Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the PDIC board recommended to the keeping of the bank-recovery program until the end of 2015.
The SPRB Plus is an extension of the original SPRB some four years ago for banks wishing to merge, acquire and consolidate. The BSP said the program would minimize bank closures and provide an alternative exit for the weaker players in the industry.
“I just came from a PDIC board meeting and we are in the direction of extending further the SPRB Plus for one final year,” Espenilla said.
The SPRB Plus had been extended several times since its inception. The current program will remain in place until December. This, according to the central bank, will help clean the local banking system while keeping the number of closures to the minimum.
The extension has yet to be approved by the Monetary Board and PDIC but Espanilla told reporters the likelihood of an extension being approved is “very good.”
He also said the current program will stand in extension without any amendments or changes.
Asked why the PDIC and the BSP look to extend the incentive program one final year, Espenilla said tentative assessments consider three years of SPRB Plus is long enough for the banks to absorb the changes the BSP has to make.
Earlier this year BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said there were already five applications for consolidation and acquisition under the SPRB Plus.
The central bank has also already locked down 13 small banks as of end-October, the latest of which pertained to the receivership of the Cooperative Bank of Tarlac.
Likewise, just last month, the central bank approved the consolidation of six banks— namely the Cooperative Bank of Agusan del Sur, Capiz Settlers Cooperative Rural Bank Inc., Cooperative Bank of Camarines Norte, Cooperative Bank of Leyte, Sorsogon Provincial Cooperative Bank and Southern Leyte Cooperative Bank—now known as the Network Consolidated Cooperative Bank.