By Jelly F. Musico, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
They may not be one among the top sectors driving the national economy but the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) remain vibrant, especially in the countryside, for the last two to three years, according to an executive of the Bank of the Philippine Islands.
“In terms of vibrancy of the sector (SMEs), it’s very encouraging specially when you are talking about the countryside,” PBI Executive Vice President Alfonso Salcedo said in a media forum at the BPI Fine Dining 1851 Club in Makati City on Thursday.
Salcedo based his observation on the numbers of SMEs that have applied for loans from BPI for the business expansion and other requirements of their business.
“You could see the activities from top to middle enterprises. It is quietly wild with the expansion plan,” he said.
The BPI executive also noticed the prudence that the SMEs are employing in borrowing money.
“They borrow because they have something to do with it. They borrow for a need. When you have businesses that are fairly prudent, or at least they borrow to reinvest or expand, you have a higher level of comfort that these loans will not go bad,” Salcedo said.
He specifically commended the SMEs sector in the countryside because “they don’t really care what is happening with the rest of the world.
“They just look at their community. They would just continue, they would not worry if Spain would leave the Euro,” Salcedo added.
Salcedo said that out of 80,000 corporate clients who applied for loans from the BPI, excluding BPI Family, 70,000 clients came from SMEs sector mostly engaged in restaurant business.
The BPI official belied observation that the banking industry is shying away from supporting SMEs.
“That report that the banking industry is not interested in SMEs is 100 percent false,” he said.
He also noted an improved economic development under the present administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Salcedo, however, said the economic robustness should be sustained by putting up more infrastructure facilities, especially in the countryside.
With the reforms implemented by the Aquino administration, Salcedo said now is the good chance for the Philippines to catch up with its Asian neighbors.
“Now is our chance to grow. We have a good chance,” he stressed.
He said the top sectors carrying the Philippine economic growth are services, utilities and real estates.