The members Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) recently celebrated 52 years of service to the nation with a symposium aptly entitled, “Banking at the Base of the Pyramid.
The two day symposium is a yearly event that is supported by the RBAP for its members and serves as a venue for dialogue and knowledge exchange among government officials, private sector partners, stakeholders and Rural Banks owner members.
This year’s topic and focus illustrated the active efforts of the rural banking industry in the microfinance and micro-enterprise sectors. It reinforced the commitment of the industry to financially underserved Filipinos in the farthest provinces and towns and concretely displayed it’s burgeoning portfolio of services and products for this sector. The symposium saw a lively exchange of views from the various participating sectors in the open forum that fostered understanding of the needs and regulations to sustain the growth that had been achieved in the previous years. Rural Banks remain the largest loan providers for the agri-agra sector and provincial based small and medium scale businesses.
According to Joseph Omar Andaya, “ We are doing this to solidify the gains that the rural banking industry has made in the past years and we are closely working with regulators and stakeholders to create a far more conducive and partner-based growth and development for the countryside. We want continues dialogue among the members of the RBAP, regulators and the other stakeholders. The event was a venue for renewing ties among industry peers and partners from other sectors like the telecom and insurance industries’.
No less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo officially opened the ceremonies with a keynote speech that lauded the rural banking industry for its commitment to countryside development and nation building. Jose C. Nograles, President of the Philippine Deposit and Insurance Corporation (PDIC) reassured the public that the rural banking industry remained healthy despite some banks being monitored for their individual performances. He encouraged these banks to undergo mergers and consolidation with the bigger rural banks. On the other hand, BSP-OIC Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas committed the full support of the BSP to the rural banking industry by announcing further reforms that would help rural banks develop products that will enhance its capabilities to serve farmers and small businessmen in their respective areas. Secretary Yap for his part encouraged the industry to continue helping in the growth of Agriculture and the promotion of its derivative world-class products. Congressman Jaime Lopez, head of the Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions, for his part informed the RBAP members that more positive legislation is in the works to assist the PDIC and the BSP to enable the regulatory bodies create a healthier, robust and more conducive banking climate in the country.
The symposium held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza last 8 and 9 October saw the attendance of over 450 rural bankers, industry partners and members from the various government agencies despite the gloomy weather.