Banks told: Keep interest rates 'reasonable' to aid COVID-19 fight

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2020 11:07 AM

A security guard scans the temperature of clients observing social distancing as they line up to enter the bank in Quezon City, March 20, 2020 on Day 6 of the lockdown in Metro Manila. The 30-day Luzon-wide quarantine entered its 16th day on Monday. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Philippine banks must keep lending rates "reasonable" to help the country power through the coronavirus pandemic, the head of an industry association said Monday.

Banks must "do their utmost" to maintain interest rates "as close as possible" to those before the Luzon lockdown, which is scheduled to end on April 12, said Cezar Consing, president of the Banker's Association of the Philippines and Bank of the Philippine Islands.

Consing said the Bangko Sentral had cut both the policy rate and the reserve requirement ratio for banks and eased some regulatory burden.

"As we move into week 3 of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), the impact of the crisis on the economy, including our corporate and consumer borrowers, is becoming more apparent," he said, addressing BAP members.

Aside from keeping interest rates steady, Consing said banks must maintain a physical presence to accommodate transactions that can't be done digitally, keep electronic channels open, ensure cash availability in branches and ATMs and contribute to market stability and liquidity.