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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             25  July 2011

Philippines central bank increases bank transparency

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has tightened the rules of the Truth in Lending Act to increase bank transparency and disclosure practices and protect consumers.

The policy-making Monetary Board, through MB Resolution 1018 dated July 7, 2011, approved the updated rules implementing the law.

According to the BSP, current practices of some credit providers, particularly the use of so-called “flat” interest rates, show contractual rates for loans that substantially differ from the effective interest rate.

“There were also observations on hidden charges and deliberate quoting of lower interest rates with higher up front charges to enhance loan product marketability. As a result, the public may be misinformed or misguided about the true cost of their borrowings,” the central bank said.

Under the new rules, banks are required to charge interest on the outstanding balance only of a loan at the beginning of an interest period.

This rule “effectively prohibits” charging “flat” interest rates and other methods which misleadingly feature a markedly lower contractual interest rate than the actual EIR.

The EIR is defined in accordance with the Philippine Accounting Standards as the rate that exactly discounts estimated future cash flows through the life of the loan to the net amount of loan proceeds.

This EIR, whether quoted annually or monthly, shall be the only rate quoted in all loan documents including the marketing materials, the BSP said.

The new rules likewise clearly define finance charges which include interest, fees, service charges, discounts, and such other charges incident to the extension of credit and require a uniform way of disclosing such information.

A standard format of disclosure is provided to ascertain that every borrower is provided with information that they need to know about their loan in a manner that is simple and easy to understand, the central bank said.

Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission and Cooperative Development Authority to issue parallel regulations for the implementation of institutions under their respective jurisdictions.

The BSP is also coordinating with the Microfinance Council of the Philippines so credit granting NGOs conform with the new transparency rule.

The new transparency rule will take effect on July 1, 2012 or one year after publication to allow mounting of a comprehensive information campaign and facilitate smooth implementation.


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