By: Bingo P. Dejaresco III
The total bank deposits in Bohol hit a record P50-billion this year, representing a huge 40% rise from the P36-Billion in 2016. And over 100% rise from P20-Billion back in the year 2012.
“This P14-B hike in deposits in 36 months is a pure indication of the uptick in the Bohol economy along with the continuous branch opening of banks, these are indicators of rapid economic growth,” according to Elena Deligero, current Bohol Bankers Association of the Philippines president.
Deposits are money deposited by corporations and individuals inside the banks as their net savings or working capital for daily needs.
According to Deligero, from 89 Bohol bank branches in 2016 -this has risen to 112 in 2019, a 26% growth while the number of depository accounts moved from 611,000 in 2016 to 755,000 in 2019, a 23% increment.
It may be recalled, that the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) decried the fact that only 40 million of the over 107 million Filipinos have a banking account- threatening their financial inclusion.
Almost all banks have anchored in Bohol- now totaling 33 such banks. The recent ones opened are BPI Direct (Ayala), Card Bank, Philippine Business Bank (Fred Yao-Zesto Group), Robinsons Bank (Gokongwei) and One Network Bank.
Among the major sources of deposits are remittances of Boholano land and sea OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) who are estimated to account for 10% of total Philippine remittances of $26-Billion 2016, according to Deligero.
Bohol has several maritime schools with three major universities in the Holy Name University, the University of Bohol and BISU. Many of the students are from other places bringing a lot of cash into the Bohol economy.
It was gathered that seamen are among the higher paid OFWs with the lowest rank getting P75,000 and captains at P 400,000 to P 600,000 a month. They provide a lot of savings to their families since they are mostly out there at sea with little temptation to become spend – free.
The loan portfolio of Bohol Banks has also grown by leaps and bounds mainly to Tourism and Construction industry. The new Panglao Bohol International airport and the 11 or so ferries to the city are expected to soon bring in 2 million visitors to Bohol.
According to DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) Regional SAVP (Senior Assistant Vice President) Marissa P. Anino- because of the “Build Build Build ” program of the government, loan levels generally went up by 15%.
In a chance meeting at the DBP Offices in Manila, Manny Herbosa, president of DBP also assured the CHRONICLE that the government development bank will always be open to assist ventures into utilities and infrastructure.
Among those firms that DBP helped in a major way is the Richli (Water) Corporation of the family of Boholano Richard Lim with a final credit package in the P1-Billion peso magnitude.
According to Deligero, who is also currently Security Bank President (after a long stint with Bank of Commerce), Bohol banks have a balanced portfolio in the sense that the corporate clients are balanced by new-found entrepreneurs and the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises).
Consumer lending into house and car financing buoys up the local economy gearing for a major economic take-off.
While the establishment of bricks and mortars in branches will remain, there is much investment of banks in digital platforms and services that will lead to safer and more efficient banking.
BSP reforms in this area aim at paperless transactions and fast delivery of deposit transfers, e-commerce payments and even loan releases and equity investment transactions for many banks.
It may be recalled that even the bank remittance business of OFW money has been slightly diminished by the entry of independent remittance operators that offer digital transfer in “real-time and current exchange rate”- presenting a bank disruption of traditional services- but benefiting the consumer at large.
The entry of the National ID system is also expected to boost the ability of banks to service many more clients from the deposit, loan and investment sides.
The business dark horse remains the BPO (Business Processing Outsourcing) industry – loosely identified as the Call Center Industry where the Philippines stand some advantage due to our people’s facility with the English language.
It’s main hindrance to growth has been the lack of strong, consistent connectivity in the internet area even if PLDT had already reportedly invested P600-M in fiber optics in the province to improve such.
TESDA has already come into the picture- providing free scholarship for call center interns on an 18-day 140-hour training course for call center agents
There will be a lot of potential workers as many of the agents in Cebu and Dumaguete cities are actually from Bohol and are raring to go home for lower cost of living and be near their respective families.
Ibex, a big BPO institution is now humming with activities at the IT Hub of the Alturas group in the old HNU premises. Offering 1,000 seats is the 1.3 hectare Tagbilaran Uptown IT Hub near the Island City Mall and the Central Market, owned by Al Uy and the family of the Tagbilaran Uptown Realty Group.
Sources noted that the group of Davao -based billionaire-businessman Dennis Uy , using his Task US firm, is interested to pitch camp in Bohol but is struggling with the same issue of connectivity. People wonder when PLDT will give Business the heads-up on the real score of this connectivity issue.
BSP BOHOL BRANCH IN LIMBO?
After years of lobbying and finally getting the approval to open a BSP Branch in Bohol by the Monetary Board under the wake of the late BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla, it seems the project in Tinago, Dauis has hit a snag.
It appears that the newly installed BSPgovernor Benjamin Diokno is asking for a “re-evaluation” of the project even if it is only Bohol among the Visayas-based Cebu, Negros Oriental and Leyte which does not have a BSP Branch.
The Bohol Bankers Association had passed a resolution, according to Deligero, to prod BSP to allow the long-overdue opening of the BSP Branch here and had sought assistance from former Bohol Governor and now First District Congressman Edgar Chatto.
People are asking whether a Monetary Board approval for such an opening can be invalidated by the mere demise of the BSP Governor during the time of the approval. Why a re-evaluation? they queried.
Nonetheless, despite the drawback in power supply, internet connectivity, birth pains at the new airport and now the snafu at the BSP Branch opening, even the NEDA Regional Office still sees Bohol as one of the most promising provinces in the Visayas, which ranks fourth in the entire region in regional GDP growth rates.
Banking and business growths indicated above confirm this prognosis.