RBAP holds 61st annual convention

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The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines is holding its 61st Annual Convention from May 21 to 22 at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City.

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The convention, with the theme “Rural Banks for Inclusive Growth,” highlights the role of rural banks in promoting inclusive growth throughout the country, especially in the rural areas.

Through the event, RBAP aims to facilitate capacity building and knowledge sharing among member-rural banks on practical strategies for them to become the government’s active partners in attaining an inclusive and sustainable growth.

The association has assembled distinguished resource speakers— including experts from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation—to share their knowledge and increase the competency of rural banks as effective social and economic movers.

Among the topics to be discussed are the Roadmap to Inclusive Growth, Technology in Banks, Income Opportunities and Alternatives for Rural Banks, and MSME (micro, small medium and medium enterprises) and Agricultural Lending.

This year’s focus on inclusive growth indicates the industry’s commitment to contribute to national stability and progress. Moreover, it shows that the industry, despite the challenges, has the fervor and dedication to fulfill its role as the champion of the poor.

With 2,500 head offices and branches scattered across the archipelago and experience in microfinance, rural banks offer the best and fastest solution towards financial inclusion, an integral component in the government’s goal of inclusive growth.

Given its timeliness in the industry’s current landscape, the convention also centers on the use of technology in banking services.

The central bank approved in December last year the enhanced version of its Information Technology Risk Management Framework for banks, which provides guidelines on rural banks’ use of cloud computing, an information technology model widely used by businesses for its reliability and convenience.

Sectoral lending is, likewise, one of the key subjects in this year’s convention. The agriculture sector still accounts for the bulk of the rural banking industry’s total loan portfolio at 32 percent, according to BSP’s data for the first quarter of 2012. The MSME sector similarly receives adequate support from the industry, with almost P12 billion funds allotted for them.

The rural banking industry has never stopped striving to keep up with the times and it has succeeded doing so for the last six decades. Some might have ended their journey early, but 535 rural banks still remain solid. As they go forward, they will not be alone as RBAP commits to stand by them, and empower them to face the challenges that lie ahead.

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