By Mayvelin U. Caraballo, August 30 2018: The Manila Times


Image Credit to Maybank.com

The private sector should adopt environment, social and governance (ESG) initiatives in their business plans, panelists said in a forum organized by the Maybank Foundation.

Held on Wednesday, the forum themed “Humanizing financial services through financial inclusion and sustainable finance” heightened awareness of ESG and its importance in long-term development of the country.

Spearheading the forum was Pia Bernadette Roman Tayag, managing director of the Inclusive Finance Advocacy Office and concurrent head of the Financial Consumer Protection Department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“This (ESG) is actually contemplated in our regulatory framework. Our focus on sound corporate governance, the role of the board in terms of controlling the resources and conducting their business to be able to achieve business objectives is already espoused in our regulations today,” Tayag said.

Just last February, the Bangko Sentral signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Finance Corp. to promote the adoption of good ESG practices in banking operations.

Still, Tayag pointed out that adopting ESG practices remained a business decision and that commitments to these initiatives must come from within the organization.

“As I said, the regulation that we have in place are already providing the needed focus for our banks to really appreciate that opportunity so that’s what we will be doing moving forward,” she said.

“And the focus on the private sector is that it really has to come from within the organization and embedding a strategy and culture,” the central bank official added.

Maybank Foundation CEO Shahril Azuar Jimin, meanwhile, highlighted the Maybank Group’s ESG strategy as a regional strength in advancing responsible financing, and successfully driving within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

For his part, CARD Bank founder and Chairman Emeritus Jaime Aristotle Alip underscored that microfinance initiatives had successfully formalized their micro lending operations.

Alip reported that unit CARD MRI has already reached hard to reach areas in the Philippines and had conducted “special programs for hardcore poor.”

He said that to date, CARD MRI has 144 unit offices located in 42 island towns/barangays and 111,620 members with loans totaling P488.12 million.