BSP: 3.8% PH inflation rate in Q1 2019 falls within target

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2019   •   1855

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday reported that the country’s headline inflation finally eased within the two to four percent target range of the government in the first quarter of 2019.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the inflation further slowed to 3.8 percent from 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Inflation means the rate of increase in prices of goods and services.

The latest figure compares with the 3.8 percent inflation rate reported in the same quarter of 2018.

“Inflation is now within the target range of the government of 2 to 4 percent,” Diokno said at BSP’s inflation quarterly briefing in Manila on Friday.

The BSP said the improved food supply conditions in the first quarter of this year led to the deceleration of consumer prices in the country.

In the latest BSP quarterly inflation report, the March inflation rate settled at 3.3 percent as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority last April 5. It was much slower than the 3.8 percent recorded in February and the lowest since January 2018 at 3.4 percent.

READ: PH inflation fate further eases to 3.3% in March

Based on data provided by the BSP, food inflation slowed to 4.1 percent from 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The slower pace of increases in goods and services was driven by lower costs of food and non-alcoholic beverages, among others. 

Although the inflation rate is broadly seen to slow further in the coming months, the agency said there could be price pressures should El Niño turn out longer than expected.

The BSP added that aside from the adverse impact of weather conditions such as El Niño, the volatile global oil prices and foreign exchange market, and higher electricity rates remain as the key upside risks to inflation.

“While the risks to the inflation outlook are assessed to be evenly balanced this year, the BSP notes that further risks could emerge from a prolonged El Niño weather condition and higher-than-expected increase in global oil and food prices. For 2020, the risks lean toward the downside amid a slowdown in global economic activity,” Diokno said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier announced that 11 provinces in Luzon and six provinces in the Visayas may experience drought by end of May due to prolonged weak El Niño.

READ: PAGASA: 17 provinces face drought due to El Niño

Latest data from the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) showed damage and losses from the persistent weak El Niño to have reached P7.96 billion. This covers damage in 277,890 hectares of agricultural areas that have affected 247,610 farmers and fisherfolks.

READ: El Niño damage to agriculture hits P8-B

BSP Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila, Jr., meanwhile, assured that they will be assessing the impact of the prolonged drought, as it may be counted as among the factors that could hasten price increases of basic goods. — Robie de Guzman (with details from April Cenedoza)

BSP issues digital banking license for Overseas Filipino Bank

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) has officially become the first branchless digital-only bank in the country’s history after securing a digital banking license from the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

OFBank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), secured a digital banking license last March 25, the DOF said in a statement on Monday.

Prior to that, the bank was able to commence its banking operations in June last year using its then-existing license to operate as a thrift bank.

OFBank, under Executive Order (EO) No. 44 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in September 2017, was created to establish a policy bank dedicated to providing financial products and services tailored to the requirements of overseas Filipinos.

“This milestone in the country’s banking history not only fulfills President Duterte’s campaign pledge to create a bank that caters to overseas Filipinos but will also help the Philippines leapfrog to the digital economy,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

“When President Duterte said he would create a bank that would serve overseas-based Filipinos, he wanted a bank that would be a trailblazer in terms of modernizing and expanding the scope of the services it offers to them,” he added.

OFBank was launched virtually in June last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the Philippines’ first branchless and digital-centric government bank, the DOF said.

While fine-tuning its operations, systems, and processes to enable its official transition into a digital bank, OFBank operated as a thrift bank, the DOF said.

In December 2020, the BSP issued Circular No. 1105 containing the guidelines on the establishment of digital banks, clearing the way for OFBank to apply for a license as a digital bank.

OFBank offers four digital products and services that include a digital onboarding system with artificial intelligence (DOBSAI), which allows the real-time opening of a mobile banking deposit account on supported iPhone or Android devices.

Aside from deposit savings accounts, OFBank’s digital services also include fund transfers, bill payments, and applications for multi-purpose loans, the DOF said.

OFBank’s global digital reach spans 112 countries, with its clients able to access online the services of 763 merchants onboarded in its mobile application via the LinkBiz.Portal, it added.

BSP clarifies grace period for loan payments in NCR Plus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The 30-day grace period on loan payments will not be extended as Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, and Cavite were put under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

In a statement, the BSP clarified the 30-day grace period on loan payments was only effective on June 1, 2020, and will not be extended as the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus Bubble goes under ECQ until April 4.

“The Omnibus Guidelines (with Amendments as of March 28, 2021) issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases does not operate to extend the 30-day grace period provided for under Republic Act No. 11469,” the statement reads.

With this, the BSP encourages BSP supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to continue to provide relief measures to its clients by renewing, restructuring, or extending the terms of the loans based on their continuing assessment of their cash flows.

“The BSP has granted prudential relief measures to BSFIs to enable them to continue to provide financial services and support households and businesses amid the crisis,” the BSP added. AAC

 

Essential services to continue despite ECQ, BSP says

Robie de Guzman   •   March 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday assured it would continue to provide essential services despite the re-enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring provinces to mitigate the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna which are among the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble have been placed under a week-long ECQ. Only essential workers are allowed to travel during this period.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shall continue to provide essential services amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) declared by the National Government from March 29 to April 4,” it said in a statement.

“The BSP and the banking industry stand ready to ensure the safe and smooth functioning of the banking system,” it added.

The central bank, however, said it would be closed on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Lenten week.

The BSP earlier said it has implemented alternate work arrangements for non-essential workers at its head office in Manila and Security Plant Complex in Quezon City in response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

On the other hand, bank personnel from mission-critical departments and support units will continue to report on-site while strictly observing health protocols mandated by the Department of Health.

It has also shortened work hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The central bank also renewed its push for the use of digital payment as this allows the public to carry out needed financial transactions safely amid the health crisis.

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