Tuesday, 2 March 2010

RP thrift banks bullish on economy, see double-digit loan growth

Erik de la Cruz
Business Mirror

Leaders of the Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) on Monday painted a rosy outlook for the domestic economy and said its 54 members were all gearing up to seize opportunities to lend more, reach out to new markets, and improve their bottom lines.

Pascual Garcia III, president of CTB and chief executive officer of Philippine Savings Bank, said the group will hold its annual convention on March 12 highly optimistic over economic prospects this year.

“The thrift banks are moving very aggressively to support the [financing] requirements in two major segments,” he said at a news briefing, referring to the mortgage and auto loan markets.

Alfonso Salcedo Jr., CTB trustee and president of BPI Family Savings Bank, said lending to the housing sector alone could grow by between 10 percent and 15 percent this year. He said the possibility of an asset bubble in the real-estate sector was remote at this stage amid still-strong demand for new homes.

“If we have a credible election, we may even see loan growth in the housing sector hitting the high teens this year,” Salcedo said during the same briefing, referring to the May 10 political exercise.

Patrick Cheng, CTB auditor and CEO of HSBC Savings Bank, told reporters his bank was also “very active” these days in extending loans given the upbeat outlook for the domestic economy.

In a statement, the CTB said its theme “Thrift Banks: Leading the Way Towards Sustained Economic Growth” for this year’s convention “highlights the chamber’s unwavering commitment to provide medium- and long-term credit to the growth drivers of the economy—micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises.”

The group “also commits to aggressively mobilize savings, provide socialized, low-cost housing and auto loans, and promote countryside development through financing in nonurban areas.”

“While 2009 has been all about coping with challenges and implementing change, 2010 will be all about taking chances and seizing opportunities,” the CTB said.

There were a total of 73 thrift banks in the Philippines at the end of 2009, composed of 29 savings and mortgage banks, 18 private development banks, 23 stock savings and loan associations and three microfinance-oriented banks.

The industry currently services over 3.4 million deposit accounts. Deposits held by thrift banks at the end of November totaled P434.2 billion, up nearly 12 percent from a year ago.

“The sustained growth in deposits mirrors the public’s increased confidence in the system, as well as the banks’ more aggressive marketing efforts,” the CTB said.

The new set of CTB officers this year includes first vice president Benjamin Oliva (director, Citibank Savings), second vice president D. Alfred Cabangon (chairman and president, Citystate Savings Bank), secretary Belen Castro (chairman, Premiere Development Bank) and treasurer Lope Fernandez Jr. (president and CEO, RCBC Savings Bank).

The other trustees are Dionisio Ong (president and CEO, Asiatrust Development Bank), Lolita Simpao (president, Bataan Savings & Loan Bank), Violeta Inocencio (president, Farmers Savings & Loan Bank), Eric Mondragon (president, Palawan Development Bank), Ambassador Alfredo Yao (chairman, Philippine Business Bank), Rogelio Florete Jr. (president, Queen City Development Bank), Corazon Balinas (president, World Partners Bank) and Ma. Consorcia Tamayo (president, University Savings Bank). Suzanne Felix continues to serve as CTB executive director.

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