A woman withdraws cash money at an automated teller machine in Makati City, June 23, 2016. — REUTERS

By Keisha B. Ta-asan, Reporter

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) is streamlining rules for banks on the publication of their quarterly balance sheets, giving them a choice to publish either in print or online.

In Circular No. 1186 signed by BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona, Jr. on Dec. 21, a bank’s quarterly balance sheet report can either be published in print or online within 35 banking days following the end of the reference quarter.

“As an alternative mode of compliance…, a bank may upload its quarterly balance sheet and consolidated balance sheet on its website and shared for a period of at least one year,” the BSP circular stated.

“In addition to this, banks may also display a tabletop standee with QR (quick response) codes in a conspicuous place in the head office, all its branches and other offices, or through other digital/electronic means to make available their balance sheets, as applicable, in digital format,” it added.

The BSP previously required the publication of balance sheets for lenders with resources of P1 billion and above in a newspaper circulated in the city or province where the principal office is located.

The new rules now allow banks to publish their balance sheets in the printed or online version of a newspaper in general circulation.

The new circular stated that stand-alone small banks can publish their balance sheets in print or online version of a newspaper or post in the “most conspicuous area of its premises.” The printed copy must be of sufficient size and easily readable by the public and shared for a period of at least three months. 

Previous rules stated that thrift, rural, and cooperative banks with resources of less than P1 billion, should publish their balance sheets on a 12”x18” white paper in an area of its premises, such as in the municipal building, barangay hall, or a public market. 

Banks are required by the BSP to publish reports which reflect their financial condition, performance, corporate governance policies, and risk management strategies.

“It is the thrust of the Bangko Sentral to promote market discipline and greater transparency through the provision of comprehensive, relevant, reliable, and comparable disclosures,” the BSP said. 

The BSP said the bank’s board of directors must also ensure that information intended for public disclosure is supported by an effective internal control structure, has undergone review and approval by its management, and is compliant with governance processes. 

“The board of directors shall have the overall responsibility in ensuring that reports prescribed under this Section fully disclose the minimum information required. The board of directors may delegate its oversight function to a board-level committee,” it added.

China Bank Capital Corp. Managing Director Juan Paolo E. Colet said the amendments will benefit the banking industry and the investing public, as it gives the public more access to banks’ financial information.

“Online posting is not only cost-efficient for banks, but it also makes information more accessible to the public. The amendments also align with broader moves by the BSP and the banking industry toward increased digitalization of operations and the promotion of online channels for service delivery,” he said in a Viber message.

Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said that online disclosure of financial information will benefit the public.

“Especially for publicly listed banks, this will create more accessibility to all participants who want to get as much readily available information as easily as possible,” he said in a Viber message.

The circular amends Section 175 of the Manual of Regulations for Banks. The prescribed reportorial template of the published or posted balance sheet for banks on both solo and consolidated bases is attached on the circular posted on BSP’s website. 

The circular will take effect in 15 days following its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.