By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — As chair of the Senate Committee on Banks, currencies, and other financial institutions, Senator Grace Poe urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to adopt a more transparent policy in resolving consumer complaints and intensify efforts to protect depositors and borrowers as it fulfills its function as a regulator.
“We expect the BSP to do more to protect depositors and borrowers who are barely surviving at this time of pandemic,” Poe said.
Poe aired this in reference to numerous complaints of violations of Bayanihan 1 and 2, which should have provided borrowers a grace period of 60 days in the payment of loans without interest and penalty.
The BSP had said it had received some 23,000 complaints last year, a significant portion of which were on credit cards including concerns on the implementation of the mandatory grace period for loans and credit card bills.
“Last year was tough for all. The grace period provided for in Bayanihan 1 and 2 was meant to ease the burden on our people,” Poe said.
Aside from challenges in the implementation of Bayanihan 1 and 2, the BSP had said credit card fraud and unauthorized transactions were also a concern for consumers.
People also encountered problems withdrawing their subsidy, or the social amelioration funds, from remittance companies last year.
The New Central Bank Act was amended in 2018 and gave the BSP P200 billion in additional capital. It was explicit that regular and special examinations of banks shall be conducted.
“We understand that it is a difficult time for banks as they, too, have taken a hit. But our people also expect our banks and financial institutions to serve and look after the needs and concerns of our citizens and small businesses especially those hardest hit by the pandemic,” Poe said.
At the same time, Poe reminded, “The BSP must look beyond the penalties and fines it slaps on banks and compel them to make it right for depositors and borrowers. Ultimately, the BSP’s policies and actions must benefit the people and not just on a macro-level.” (AI/MTVN)