TAGAYTAY CITY: The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member states agreed on Wednesday to make credit accessible to more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and enable further job creation and income upgrades. “Financial inclusion is vital in achieving the goal of enhancing the inclusivity of growth in economies. If we help the SMEs become more productive, such as by easing the accessibility of financing (for them), we help our economies generate more jobs and boost incomes,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said.
In the final day of the two-day 2015 APEC Forum on Financial Inclusion on Wednesday in Tagaytay City, the delegates agreed that while there have been inroads into SME financing, countries in the region can do a lot more.
The Philippines, which is acknowledged to have a favorable regulatory environment for microfinance, has vowed to continue moving the agenda of financial inclusion forward.
Outstanding microfinance loans in the Philippines had consistently grown over the years, hitting P9.4 billion as of end-September 2014 from P2.6 billion in 2002.
Over the same period, microfinance borrowers in the Philippines had grown from about 390,000 to nearly 1.16 million, while the number of banks with microfinance units had increased to 183 from 119.
In the meeting, delegates tackled the need to make credit data accessible to lenders in order to give SMEs a better chance of getting financing. At the same time, they discussed means to ensure the security of information and credit transactions in order to build public confidence in credit information systems.
In the Philippines, a centralized credit information system will be in operation soon. Credit Information Corp. (CIC) earlier reported that sharing of information through the system will begin by the end of the year, while most of the relevant credit data will be available through the system by 2016.