THE Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) on Friday said lending to priority sectors increased by nearly a fifth in the first quarter of the year as more farmers and fisherfolk took advantage of lower interest rates.
In a report, LandBank president and CEO Gilda Pico said that LBP’s loans to the priority sector reached P387.4 billion in January-March 2016, up by 18 percent from the same period a year ago.
Lending to the priority sector also accounted for a record-high of 88.7 percent of LandBank’s total loans to allsectors which amounted to P436.7 billion.
“LandBank continues to place utmost priority on enabling the growth of its priority sectors and fueling development in the countryside, in line with its vision to improve the quality of life of more Filipinos,” Pico said.
The bank’s identified priority sectors comprise of small farmers and fishers (SFFs), a good part of which are agrarian reform beneficiaries, MSMEs [micro, small and medium-scale enterprises], agri- and aqua-projects of LGUs [local government units]and GOCCs [government owned and controlled corporations], communications, transportation, housing, education, health care, environment-related projects, tourism, and utilities.
Meanwhile, LBP’s support for the mandated sector grew by 26 percent, with outstanding loans to small farmers and fishersand their associations amounting to P32.8 billion as of March 2016.
Loans for agriculture and fisheries also expanded by 21 percent to P100.9 billion from P83.2 billion in the same period last year. These include agribusiness loans, which grew by 46 percent to P44.6 billion from P30.5 billion.
Its support for national government priority programs, which accounted for 58 percent of priority sector loans, also jumped 15 percent to P253.7 billion. These include loans for environment-related projects, which more than tripled to P19.5 billion; health care which rose by 47 percent (P8.4 billion); and transportation which registered 23-percent growth (P27.5 billion).
Other sectors which registered 9 percent growth include MSMEs at P54 billion, utilities at P56.5 billion, communications at P23.3 billion, and tourism at P3.8 billion.
Loans for socialized, low-cost and medium-cost housing grew 6 percent to P40.5 billion.
LandBank remains the single largest lender to small farmers and fishers and the leading
provider of financial assistance to MSMEs among GOCCs and government financial institutions.
It is also the biggest credit provider to the LGU sector, financing projects in agri-infrastructure, agri-business, schools and hospitals, farm-to-market roads, housing and livelihood, and other developmentprojects.
LandBank is the only bank present in all of the country’s provinces with 361 branches, 24 Other Banking Offices, and 1,526 ATMs as of March31 2016.