LandBank told to lead PH towards inclusive and long-term economic growth

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno instructed the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) to lead the country in achieving an inclusive financial system and economic growth, as he underscored the bank’s significant role in nation-building.

“LANDBANK should be at the forefront in transforming into reality the Marcos administration’s goals of achieving a truly inclusive financial system and long-term economic growth that benefits all Filipinos,” said Secretary Diokno in a video message at LANDBANK’s 59th anniversary celebration.

Secretary Diokno, who is the new Chairman of the LANDBANK Board, recognized how the bank upheld its social mandate of quickening inclusive growth in rural areas.

He noted how this mandate evolved and expanded to serve other key sectors in support of the government’s move towards greater financial inclusion and national development.

LANDBANK is among government financial institutions mandated under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Financing Enhancement Act of 2022 or the Agri-Agra law to manage a special fund partly for extending loans with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements to farmers, fisherfolk, cooperatives, associations, and microfinance institutions.

As of June 30, 2022, LANDBANK’s agri-loan portfolio has reached a total of P257.7 billion, making it the largest lender to the agriculture sector. The amount is 15.5 percent higher from the same period in the previous year.

The state-owned institution has also been a reliable development partner for both private entities and the government by acting as the latter’s primary distribution channel for financial assistance programs.

These include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Unconditional Cash Transfers, fuel subsidies, grants to rice farmers, and the COVID-19 Social Amelioration Program.

The bank has granted loans and spearheaded lending programs to support Housing and Health, Local Government Units (LGUs), Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), as well as Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), especially those struggling during the pandemic. It has also intensified its efforts to target individual farmers and fishers.

Secretary Diokno also acknowledged the bank’s leading role in modernizing the banking sector through the establishment of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank), the country’s first branchless and fully-digital government bank.

“LANDBANK has been at the forefront of banking the unbanked. Through our partnership in the rollout of the Philippine Identification System, more than 8 million formerly unbanked Filipinos now have their own bank accounts,” said Secretary Diokno.

“I commend the Bank for the recent launching of [the] PISO account, mainly targeting the underserved Filipinos,” he added.

Secretary Diokno aims to fast-track the roll out of such programs in line with his goal of onboarding 70 percent of Filipino adults into the formal financial system by 2023.

He also noted LANDBANK’s acquisition of the United Coconut Planters Bank as another milestone that further strengthened and improved the resilience of the institution.

“Here’s my marching order to you: do your utmost to make LANDBANK more focused and responsive than ever towards creating a meaningful and deeper impact in the Bank’s bigger role in nation-building,” said Secretary Diokno.