BSP eyes relief for typhoon-affected banks

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is ready to provide relief to banks with offices and branches in the areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda, according to a high-ranking BSP official.

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“You can expect immediate deployment of our standard regulatory relief package designed precisely to help cope with calamities,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espe-nilla Jr. said during the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines’ 56th Charter Anniversary Symposium.

Espenilla said that the central bank will be working closely with the affected banks in restoring their operations, for them to start serving their customers especially with cash withdrawals and loans.

Asked on what kind of regu-latory relief will be granted to banks, Espenilla said that the BSP may allow the relaxation of classification of nonperforming loans, and the loan loss provi-sioning or the reduction of the 5-percent general loan loss pro-vision to 1 percent for re-structured loans of borrowers in the affected areas.

Also, the BSP official cited a regulatory relief that allows banks to provide financial assistance to their officers and employees who were affected by the calamity, including assistance that may not be within the scope of the existing BSP-approved Fringe Benefit Program.

Meanwhile, with the widespread impact of the Super Typhoon Yolanda, Espenilla said that the central bank will need think to harder on more options on how to help the affected banks.

“But given the scale of recent devastation from the one-two punch of the Bohol earthquake and now [Super] Typhoon Yolanda, we will need to actively think of additional measures to bolster our support,” he said.

“Every market is important to us, so we have to focus on what relief and measures we can do to a particular area,” the official added.

On the other hand, Espenilla said that the key challenge for the affected banks is the re-storation of power and com-munications, which are essen-tial for them to operate.

“We’ve been monitoring the situation over the weekend. The reality is, getting reports are quite difficult because of lack of communication in the affected areas. Even banks find it hard to contact [their offices in the areas]. We are in the process of establishing information,” he said.

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