Duterte signs memo to boost financial inclusion


Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s office on Friday released a memorandum circular directing government bodies to support the implementation of a national strategy boosting access to financial services, which are mostly offered by the private sector.

The memorandum directs all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Philippine government to adopt initiatives under the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI), launched in 2015 and updated earlier this year to cope with the changing technological landscape.

“All regional development councils (RDCs) and equivalent bodies are enjoined to adopt financial inclusion as a development agenda,” the memorandum, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea on June 23, read.

“All local government units (LGUs) are likewise encouraged to promote financial inclusion within their respective jurisdictions,” it added.

The NSFI provided strategic objectives and guiding principles that would promote financial inclusion.

To implement the circular effectively, the Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (FISC), chaired by central bank governor Benjamin E. Diokno, is tasked to coordinate with and provide technical assistance to RDCs and LGUs.

“The FISC shall also conduct information, education and communication activities towards building public understanding on the NSFI,” it added.

Funds necessary for the implementation of the circular will be charged against the appropriations of concerned government agencies with respect to their NSFI-related projects and activities, “subject to the usual accounting and auditing requirements, rules and regulations.”

“As a shared blueprint that aspires to achieve financial inclusion towards broad-based financial resilience, the adoption and implementation of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion demands cooperation and support from the whole-of-government,” the circular read.

The proportion of Filipino adults with bank accounts reached 53% in the first quarter of 2021 from 29% in 2019. These comprised basic deposit and e-money accounts.

Data from the Philippine central bank showed that bank deposit accounts rose by 19% to 7.9 million in the last quarter of 2021, from 6.6 million in the same period a year earlier.

The Philippine government considers financial inclusion as a key driver of economic recovery towards a post-pandemic world.

The central bank is aiming to transform 50% of the total volume of retail payments into digital and bring 70% of Filipino adults into the banked population by 2023 under its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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