BSP pitches agri finance, bank secrecy reforms

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THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has urged Congress to push more banking legislation this year in an effort to make the local financial landscape more competitive and accessible to Filipinos nationwide.

Over the weekend, the Central Bank released a statement outlining its legislative agenda for the 18th Congress. The BSP said the agenda is expected to “further promote access to quality financial products and espouse the interests of the general public.”

The legislative agenda includes these bills: amendments to the Bank Deposit Secrecy laws, the Financial Consumer Protection bill and the Agricultural Financing reforms, among others.

“We shall work with the 18th Congress in the legislation of laws that support a strong economy and promote a high quality of life for all Filipinos,” BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said. “This is the BSP’s vision. But we cannot do it alone. We need the help of various stakeholders to make this happen,” he added.

Among the recently passed laws are Republic Act 11211 which amended RA 7653, the Charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; RA 11127 or the National Payment Systems Act; RA 11055 or the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act; and RA 11256 or the “Gold  Law.” Meanwhile, the Islamic Banking Framework Bill is currently for transmission to the Office of the President for signature.

Diokno, reputed to be a reformist throughout his public service career, said that he will strictly and promptly implement these recently passed laws.

“These structural reforms strengthen the BSP’s monetary stability and financial supervision functions, introduce much-needed financial reforms, and create a solid foundation for the BSP’s financial inclusion advocacy,” he noted.

The BSP said proposed amendments to the Bank Deposit Secrecy laws aim to make financial institutions comply with international standards on transparency and combat both domestic and global tax evasion, money laundering and other financial crimes.

On the other hand, the Financial Consumer Protection bill aims to provide a comprehensive financial consumer protection regime that consolidates financial inclusion, financial education, good governance, and effective supervision for the purpose of consumer protection

The BSP also said the proposed reforms to Agricultural Financing include changes in the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009 (Republic Act 10000), which mandates banks to allot at least 10 percent of total loanable funds for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and 15 percent for farmers and fisherfolk.

Amendments to this law will allow banks to merge their loan allocation to the farm sector as a measure to improve banks’ compliance rate.

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