The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines will lead the celebration of the Rural Banking Consciousness Week that will run from August 24 to 30.
With the theme “Rural Banks: Building a Robust Local Economy,” the week-long celebration seeks to promote appreciation among Filipinos by raising awareness on the role the rural banks play in the local economy. This year’s theme also recognizes the continuous partnership between rural banks and the government in the pursuit of sustainable economy.
The rural banking industry, being situated across the country with more than 500 head offices and over 1,900 branches, is undeniably the first point of financial access of most communities. Even at the farthest islands, rural banks are at the forefront of providing financial services to the low-income segment–the fishermen, farmers and small merchants–who are also major players of the local economy.
For one, as a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed, rural banks were able to lend P188 billion or 24.2 percent of the total agricultural loans to farmers in 2014.
The PSA report also showed that about 32 percent of the total agricultural loans granted were utilized for production purposes, with palay (unhusked rice), livestock and poultry taking the bulk. Thus, it can be noted that investments in the sector not only affect individual units but the economy as a whole.
With loans and deposit offerings extended to this segment, the agriculture, fishery and entrepreneurial sectors continue to flourish in return. According to the PSA, farm sector expanded 1.8 percent in 2014 in terms of production volume, faster than the growth of 1.12 percent in the previous year.
As the nation celebrates the rural banking week, the entire industry hopes that more people will realize the value of rural banks in a growing economy–despite rural banks taking control of only three percent of the whole banking industry. We are also optimistic that rural banks, as a collective, will further pursue the development of agriculture.
The last week of August is declared as the Rural Banking Consciousness Week pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 362, series of 2000.