THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday said it approved a $300-million loan to fund the Philippine government’s initiatives to boost vulnerable sectors’ access to financial services.

In a statement, the multilateral lender said its Inclusive Finance Development Program (Subprogram 3) supports reforms to expand financial inclusion in the Philippines by improving financial infrastructure.

The program also aims to boost the capacity of financial service providers, including rural banks and nonbank financial institutions.

“Through this loan, ADB is expanding its partnership with the Philippines in ensuring all Filipinos will have access to financial products and services, including via digital platforms, to help improve their lives and livelihoods,” ADB Senior Financial Sector Specialist Kelly Hattel was quoted as saying in the statement.

Mr. Hattel said the reforms supported by the ADB loan will ensure the government can extend assistance to the most vulnerable segments during times of crises and emergencies, as well as raise climate resilience of farmers and mi-cro-, small-, and medium-scale businesses through expanded insurance.

Based on the 2021 Global Findex Database, the number of Filipino adults with accounts with financial institutions or mobile money providers stood at 51% of the population in 2021 from 34% in 2017.

The Philippine government wants to raise the number of Filipinos holding an account with financial institutions or mobile money providers to 70% by 2024.

As of Sept. 1, almost 88% of Filipinos are registered under the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

The newly approved ADB loan is a continuation of the first and second subprograms of the ADB’s Inclusive Finance Development Program launched in October 2018 and August 2020, respectively.

The ADB is earmarking up to $4 billion worth of loan financing for the Philippines, focused on eight projects and programs.

In 2022, the ADB was the country’s top provider of active official development assistance. This accounted for 33.47% of the total, equivalent to $10.85 billion. — L.M.J.C.Jocson