Rural banks review consolidation program

By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – The rural banking system is reviewing the Strengthening Program for Rural Banks (SPRB) in an attempt to speed up the process of consolidation.

The SPRB is a consolidation program initiated by both the public and private sector, supported by a P5-billion financial assistance fund. The fund came from the coffers of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC).

It was introduced in the first quarter of 2010 but so far, there had been no takers.

Yet in the same period, the number of rural banks declined to 647 from 674 in 2009. But the reduction of players was due to closures, mergers and acquisition (M&A) activities, and consolidation without the help of the SPRB.

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