Neda chief: All 26M PH households could have bank accounts by end of 2021
MANILA—The government is aiming at giving access to bank accounts and formal banking services to the Philippines’ 26 million households by the end of 2021, the country’s chief economist said on Thursday (June 17).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (Apec) structural reform ministerial meeting that the COVID-19 pandemic “revealed several institutional weaknesses, including the difficulty in identifying beneficiaries for social protection programs and the lack of bank accounts for the efficient distribution of subsidies” in the Philippines.
The national and local governments gave away cash dole outs at the height of the longest and most stringent COVID-19 lockdown in the region in 2020, but the social amelioration program (SAP) was beset by sluggish distribution to the most vulnerable sectors targeted for financial aid.
This was the reason for the fast-tracking of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), according to Chua.
“From zero registrations in April 2020, over 36 million individuals have taken the initial step to be registered and some 3.7 million household heads applied for a bank account,” said Chua.
As head of the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), Chua also heads the board of the chief implementing agency of PhilSys, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
During biometrics collection, the second of three steps to register for the Philippine ID (PhilID), the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) was also present at registration sites to accept bank account applications.
“Our goal is to register at least 50 million individuals [for PhilID] and achieve 100-percent financial inclusion at the family level by the end of 2021,” Chua said.
The government had given priority to heads of poor families for PhilSys registration so that their PhilIDs will later on serve as a valid proof of identity during distribution of social assistance.
Chua later told the Inquirer that based on the implementation of SAP last year, the government recorded 20 million low-income families.
Among these low-income households, four million were already covered by the conditional cash transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which meant they already had bank accounts, Chua said. Another 3.7 million already applied for bank accounts alongside their PhilID registration, Chua added.
Chua said the Philippines currently has at least 26 million households, of which six million belonged to the formal, banked sector.
The government aims to bring the remaining 12.3 million households into the formal sector this year, the Neda chief said.