As BSP keeps foot on brakes, cash supply tightens
The total value of loans extended by the country’s largest financial institutions rose at a slower rate in February, no thanks to the high interest rate regime imposed by the central bank last year to fight off the highest inflation rates in almost a decade.
As this developed, calls grew for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to loosen monetary policy in the face of easing consumer prices, even as its leaders insisted current interest rate levels remained “appropriate.”
“With the trend of decelerating inflation and tightening liquidity and slowing bank lending, perhaps BSP will soon get enough data points to finally consider easing off the brakes before the entire car comes to a halt,” ING senior economist Nicholas Mapa said in an e-mailed note to the press after the release of the latest bank lending and money supply figures.
According to the BSP, loans granted by universal and commercial banks, net of short term deposits with the regulator, grew at a slower rate of 13.7 percent in February from 15.3 percent in January.
Likewise, the growth in bank lending inclusive of banks’ short term placements with the BSP decelerated to 13.9 percent in February from 14.5 percent in the previous month.
Loans for production activities—which comprised 88.4 percent of banks’ aggregate loan portfolio, net of bank placements—increased at a slower pace of 13.6 percent in February from 15.5 percent in the previous month.
“The growth in production loans was driven primarily by increased lending to the following sectors: real estate activities (12 percent); wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (14.6 percent); financial and insurance activities (22.2 percent); manufacturing (13.7 percent); construction (44.4 percent); and, electricity, gas, steam and airconditioning supply (9.4 percent),” the central bank said.
Meanwhile, preliminary data showed domestic liquidity grew by 7.1 percent year-on-year to about P11.5 trillion in February 2019. This was slower than the 7.7-percent expansion in January 2019. Demand for credit eased but remained the principal driver of money supply growth, the central bank said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.