BSP celebrates silver anniversary

By Kris Crismundo

July 3, 2018, 6:09 pm

MANILA -- Since its establishment in July 3, 1993, a quarter of a century ago, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has taken pride in making the country’s banking system solid and stable, while ushering the Philippines to its current robust economic growth.

BSP’s policy has helped the country to temper the inflation rate that was higher than its gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 1993 and reversing the condition in 2002. And from 2012 up to the first quarter of the year, economic growth was consistent to be above inflation pressures.

Data from the central bank showed that inflation in 1993 was at 6.6 percent, while GDP only stood at 2.1 percent.

This is different from the growth story of the country from 2012 up to Q1 2018. GDP growth from 2012 to Q1 2018 is stable at 6 percent and above. Annual inflation rate during this period has not breached the 5-percent mark.

The BSP is mandated to maintain price stability, balancing it with the economic growth.

The BSP also helped the country build its gross international reserves (GIR) from USD5.92 billion 25 years ago to USD79.2 billion at end-May 2018. GIR level in 1993 was able to cover 3.2 months’ worth of imports. It more than doubled at end-May this year as dollar reserves can cover 7.6 months of imports.

On the other hand, foreign exchange rate in 1993 was at PHP27.12 to a dollar. The local currency weakened to PHP53.42 to a dollar at June 27 this year. The central bank said the exchange rate was driven by the changing market conditions.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III explained that the weakening of peso does not mean that the economy is slowing down.

In the local banking sector, BSP has been pushing initiatives that would make bank operation safer and more sound.

From March 1999 to March 2018, number of banks’ head offices declined but the number of their branches continued to rise to bring financial services across the country.

In 1999, there were 999 head offices and 6,664 branches of banks. As of March 2018, head offices dropped to 858 but their branches grew to 11,319.

There were more access points nowadays compared to decades ago, with a total number of automated teller machines (ATMs) increasing from 3,294 in 1999 to 20,656 this year.

BSP data noted that loan portfolios of banks continue to grow, and loan quality has been improving as non-performing loan ratio declined to 1.84 percent from 13.7 percent in 1999.

Meanwhile, the central bank’s workforce as of 2018 stood at 5,322 from 7,292 25 years ago.

It has eight branches in Luzon located in Cabanatuan, Tuguegarao, Batac, San Fernando in Pampanga, Dagupan, Legazpi, Lucena, and Naga, with its regional office in La Union.

In Visayas, BSP is present in Bacolod, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Roxas, and Tacloban, with its regional office located in Cebu.

Its Mindanao branches include Cotabato, Zamboanga, Ozamiz, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Butuan, locating its regional office in Davao.

BSP headquarters in Manila and its banknote printing plant in Quezon City.

Average service of BSP personnel stood at 14 years, with 53 percent of its employees served the central bank for more than 10 years.

Being the central monetary authority of the Philippines, the BSP performs the following functions: liquidity management, currency issue, lender of last resort, financial supervision, management of foreign currency reserves, determination of exchange rate policy, and the government’s banker, financial advisor, and official depository. (PNA)