An employee counts U.S. dollar bills before changing it to Philippine Pesos inside a money changer in Manila September 19, 2013. The Philippine central bank said remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have allowed households to save money, boosting the country’s savings rate.(MNS Photo)

An employee counts U.S. dollar bills before changing it to Philippine Pesos inside a money changer in Manila September 19, 2013. The Philippine central bank said remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have allowed households to save money, boosting the country’s savings rate.(MNS Photo)

MANILA, June 12 (Mabuhay) – The Senate ratified late Wednesday a proposal to let more foreign banks operate and without restrictions in the Philippines’ financial system.

The chamber approved the bicameral conference committee report reconciling provisions of Senate Bill 2159 and House Bill 3984.

Both approved measures seek to allow foreign banks by fully acquiring the voting stock of an existing bank or a new banking subsidiary incorporated under Philippine laws.

In the reconciled version of the bills, foreign lenders seeking full entry into the Philippine banking system must be widely-owned and publicly-listed in their respective countries of origin.

The bicameral conference committee report also directs the Monetary Board to ensure that domestic banks hold at least 60 percent of the total resources or assets of the entire banking system.

Last February, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas pushed for the passage of this proposed legislation.

Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. earlier said foreign banks and financial institutions should still follow local investment and banking rules even with the coming ASEAN economic integration.

The proposed legislation is expected to foster competition in the banking industry, and to prepare the Philippines for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration in 2015

Once the report is approved by the House of Representatives, it will be sent to Malacañang for the President’s approval.  (MNS)