By Lee C. Chipongian
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is planning to sell its Security Plant Complex (SPC) in Quezon City where it prints banknotes, mint coins and refines gold.
The initial selling price is estimated at P8 billion for the 5.7-hectare facility, based on documents submitted to the Monetary Board, the BSP’s policy-making body.
The BSP, led by central bank Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., is studying the relocation of its SPC facility, either in Clark, Pampanga or inside Bonifacio Global City, just two possible areas out of several being considered.
When asked, Espenilla said the SPC sale is “more of an idea than a plan at this point” however initial propositions were already discussed in a special, non-regular Monetary Board meeting, including possibility of lease land agreement for the new SPC location.
He said currency notes production is changing with the times and they have to keep up in “thinking ahead how to produce currency in the future.”
“Even the idea of how much currency to produce in the future is under study given shift to new payments technology. Too premature to talk about it,” said Espenilla.
The BSP is seriously into the digitalization of the country’s payments and settlements system and in 2016, launched the National Retail Payment System to enable the shift from a cash-heavy to cash-lite economy by 2020.
It is also the first banking regulator to have laid down rules covering e-money services, cryptocurrency, and using Fintech for financial inclusion.
By next year, the BSP will be adopting Suptech and Regtech or the use of technologically enabled innovation – again the first central bank to do so – to support its supervision and regulation of the banking system.
The SPC was established in 1978. The large BSP complex along East Avenue, Quezon City, can produce 3.6 billion pieces of banknotes per year.
The BSP is one of select central banks in the world that has the capacity to print its entire banknotes requirement after investing over P5 billion since 2010 to upgrade and modernize its printing and minting operations. It has purchased two superline printers from Komori Corp. of Japan worth more than P2 billion which replaced its 40-year old banknotes printing machines in 2016 and 2017. This raised its printing capacity from 1.8 billion pieces of banknotes to 3.6 billion at the end of last year.
In the meantime, a new P1.2-billion minting facility was commissioned this year. In 2017, some 2.3 billion pieces of coins were minted.
The SPC also prints other securities documents such as Land Registration Authority judicial title forms, official receipts, expense checks, charge slips and forms. Before 2015, the facility has printed passports.
Besides coin minting and refining gold, the SPC makes presidential medals, other state decorations, commemorative coins and commemorative medals.