Plans of state-run Land Bank of the Philippines to expand its Agent Banking Program can further boost safer and efficient distribution of government subsidies for poor Filipinos affected by the pandemic.
Actually, the program’s main objective is to make LandBank’s services more accessible to Filipinos in unbanked and underbanked areas in the country.
But since LandBank is also used by the government as a conduit to distribute cash grants to needy Filipinos amid the outbreak, the program can serve as a better avenue to run the state’s social amelioration program.
The initial implementation of SAP was marred by corruption as it was participated by allegedly corrupt and misguided barangay officials.
Landbank president and chief executive officer Cecilia Borromeo said the program will allow LandBank bank to serve Filipinos in remote areas where financial services are inaccessible.
Under the program, the bank enters into a partnership with cooperatives, associations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and private entities in areas without Landbank presence to facilitate services, such as cash-out transactions, fund transfer and bills payment.
“With the help of our agent partners across the country, we are bringing more Filipinos into the financial mainstream, thus, promoting greater financial inclusivity,” Borromeo said.
Landbank also plans to increase the number of its agent partners, particularly from unbanked and underserved areas, to widen its reach and bring basic banking services closer to more Filipinos.
“Before this year ends, Landbank targets to get 16 new direct agent banking partners on board, convert 64 eligible point-of-sale (POS) cash-out only partners into full-suite agent banking partners, and accredit 200 new full-suite agent banking partners in locations with high number of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries,” Landbank said.
Beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer and unconditional cash transfer programs may also withdraw their cash grants through the Landbank agent partners.
The program is now being implemented in 14 provinces through 820 point-of-sale terminals.
In the first four months, around 1.16 million transactions amounting to P4.77 billion were completed via the bank’s full-suite agent banking partners and POS cash out-only partners.
Earlier, to support families and communities severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, LandBank has started releasing cash grants totaling P16,347,295,950.00 to P3,721,826 Conditional Cash Tansfer (CCT) household-beneficiaries nationwide through SAP intended for the purchase of basic food, medicine, and toiletries.
Of the P16.34 billion total amount, P6.05 billion has already been credited to their LandBank Cash Cards for 1.19 million beneficiaries covering NCR, CAR, Regions I, II, III, IV-A, and ARMM.
LandBank also credited P5.26 billion-worth of cash grants for 1.29 million beneficiaries in Regions 4-B, 5, 6, 7 and 9. The remaining balance of P5.01 billion cash grants was also released to 1.23 million beneficiaries in Regions 8, 10, 11, 12, CARAGA and all other regions.
“We want to ensure that social protection programs reach our most vulnerable sectors during this crisis the soonest time possible. Through our LandBank Cash Cards, we are delivering financial assistance in an immediate, safe, secure, and convenient manner,” said Borromeo.
The release of the cash grants is in support of Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 2020, which specifies the guidelines for the provision of social amelioration measures by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to the most affected residents of the current national health and economic emergency.