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Dominguez says Nat’l ID, reduction of unbanked among admin’s wins

FINANCE SECRETARY Carlos G. Dominguez III said the widespread adoption of the National Identification (ID) System and the boost this provided to expanding banking services for all are among the government’s top achievements over the past six years.

Mr. Dominguez cited data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) indicating that as of May 3, 64.8 million persons have registered for the National ID, while 7.9 million unbanked individuals now had accounts with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK).

He added that the National ID system helped people become “part of the formal banking system” because they now possessed a universally-accepted form of ID.

Because of know-your-customer rules to deter money laundering and other financial crimes, banks typically require multiple forms of identification, deterring those who could not produce documents. Minimum maintaining balance requirements have alone proved to be a hurdle for poor would-be depositors.

Over 10 million IDs have been delivered to individuals as of April 30, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), or about 33.7% of the PSA’s target for the year.

“In addition, we fulfilled President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte’s promise of establishing a bank dedicated to the needs of Filipinos working abroad,” Mr. Dominguez said at the Duterte Administration’s Legacy Summit on Monday. “The Overseas Filipino Bank is our first branchless digital-only bank in the country. It now serves overseas Filipinos in 116 countries.”

Mr. Dominugez also called the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program and the tax reform program as enduring legacies which helped steer the Philippines “towards more inclusive growth and prosperity.”

He called the outgoing government “among the most productive in our history.”

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, he said, has had the effect of “basically (giving out) 14th-month pay every year to our wage earners.”

He said the Rice Tariffication Law has removed rice as a major driver of inflation, while giving farmers at least P10 billion each year to fund modernization via mechanization, improved seed, and training.

Mr. Dominguez said that these measures and reforms have set the country on a firm path to recovery, noting the 2021 growth rate of 5.7%, as well as first quarter growth of 8.3%, the highest in the region.

Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia posted growth rates of 5% for the quarter, with Thailand the laggard at 2.2%.

The Philippines was hit hard by the pandemic, causing gross domestic product (DGP) to contract by 9.5% in 2020. The government borrowed extensively from both foreign and domestic lenders in order to finance its pandemic response.

The incoming administration is inheriting debt of about P12.63 trillion, equivalent to a debt-to-GDP ratio of 63.5%.

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