Bankers assure continued services, reasonable lending rates

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) has urged its members to continue providing necessary services to the public and maintain reasonable lending rates as the island of Luzon and other areas are put under enhanced community quarantine to deter the further spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a statement released on March 29, the BAP asked its member banks to maintain reasonable lending rates; maintain a level of branch presence that allows for the execution of transactions that cannot be performed digitally; keep digital channels open; ensure availability of cash in open branches and the majority of ATMs; and, contribute to stable and liquid financial markets.

The BAP noted that “the Bangko Sentral has reduced both the policy rate and reserve requirements, and has taken steps to ease the regulatory burden borne by banks.”

It also recognized the passage of “the Bayanihan Act, which gives the executive branch extraordinary powers to address the current crisis.”

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and other sectors of society earlier appealed to all government and privately owned banks, quasi-banks, credit and lending facilities, financial institutions and the like to keep their services functional and convenient and to allow a grace period for the payment of loans amid the ongoing quarantine measures.

Go urged banks and other financial institutions in the country not to increase interest rates for consumer and commercial loans while most areas in the country are still under enhanced community quarantine.

He also encouraged these institutions to come up with flexible and convenient restructuring of existing loans to enable their clients to pay their arrears at a later period and at a lower amount.

“In this time of national crisis, everybody must sacrifice for the greater good. Huwag po natin mas pahirapan pa ang taumbayan (Let’s not make life difficult for people,” Go said, reiterating his statement released on March 26, three days before BAP issued its own statement.

“Both government and the private sector must work together and do what may be deemed necessary to address and respond to the growing threats of Covid-19, and the socio-economic impact that comes with it,” he added.

Go also appealed for everyone’s cooperation and compassion in these trying times.

“Magbayanihan po tayo. Tulungan nating bumangon ang bawat Pilipino bilang isang nagkakaisang bansa (Let’s help each other. Let’s help every Filipino recover as a united country),” he said. “Together, we can heal as one.” Source: Philippines News Agency

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