Diokno: ‘I hope next Budget chief is not a politician’

Robie de Guzman   •   March 6, 2019   •   2319

FILE PHOTO: Newly-appointed governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Benjamin Diokno

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Outgoing Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday expressed his hope that the next Department of Budget and Management (DBM) chief is not a politician.

In his last press conference as DBM Secretary, Diokno told reporters that if it were up to him, his successor should not be a politician or a former politician to avoid political agenda, especially when preparing the national budget.

“There are many names being floated, but I hope the next DBM Secretary is not a politician,” Diokno said.

“‘Yun naman ang role ng DBM. If you are a politician, parang iba ang agenda mo,” he added.

Diokno also believes that the next DBM Chief should be a technocrat or a highly skilled individual with expertise in a given area of responsibility, particularly with regard to scientific or technical knowledge.

When asked about the possibility that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be appointed as the next Budget chief, Diokno replied with “That’s speculative. I don’t want to comment on that.”

Diokno was appointed as governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (March 4). He is set to take his oath on Wednesday evening.

He replaced Nestor Espenilla Jr. who died last February after a year-long battle against tongue cancer.

Diokno said he will preside his first Monetary Policy Meeting as BSP Governor on Thursday, March 7.

Diokno’s appointment to BSP has been met with criticisms over his credentials and field of expertise, but the incoming central bank chief insisted he has the necessary training for the post.

“As a Central Bank Governor, you have to analyze what is being presented to you. I have a PhD in Economics, so I know exactly what’s going on, whether I’m here or I’m there, I know that. Sabi nga ni [Finance] Sec. [Carlos] Dominguez, I have 3 Masteral degrees, one in public administration, two in economics and Philippine economy. I have the necessary training,” he said.

Diokno’s first order of business when he formally assumes as BSP Governor is to preside his first Monetary Policy meeting on Thursday, March 7.

The incoming BSP head vows to continue Espenilla’s reform initiatives, such as the advancement of financial inclusion and cyber security.

Budget Undersecretary Janet Abuel has been designated as DBM Acting Secretary until Duterte appoints the next DBM Chief.

Malacañang has earlier said that the President is looking for competency, expertise and integrity in the next Budget Secretary.– Robie de Guzman (with reports from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

OFW remittances up by 3.6% in eight months — BSP

Marje Pelayo   •   October 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) noted a significant increase in personal remittances of overseas Filipinos workers (OFW) by 3.6% in the past eight months of 2019.

According to a BSP statement released on Tuesday (October 15), remittances from OFWs totaled to US$2.9 billion in August 2019 which is 4.2 percent higher than the US$2.8 billion in August 2018.

This brings OFWs’ personal remittances to US$22 billion which is about US$800,000 increase from last year’s US$21.2 billion.

Specifically, land-based OFWs with work contracts of one year or more, remitted US$16.8 billion from January to August this year, a slight increase from US$16.3 billion in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, inflows of remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts also contributed US$4.7 billion from US$4.4 billion last year.

The media release further stated that, by country source, the highest share of overall remittances for January to August 2019 was the United States with 37 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, the UK, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, and Kuwait.

The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 78.4 percent of total cash remittances from January to August 2019.

PH Central Bank Chief Espenilla passes away at 60

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2019

The late BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr

MANILA, Philippines – Governor and Monetary Board Chairman Nestor Espenilla Jr., passed away on Saturday after succumbing to cancer, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirmed on Sunday. He was 60.

“It is with deep sadness that the Monetary Board announced that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and Chairman of the Monetary Board Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. peacefully passed away on 23 February 2019 surrounded by members of his family,” BSP said in a statement.

Espenilla had been battling tongue cancer for more than a year and had been on intermittent leave to undergo surgery and radiation therapy.

Espenilla was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2017 to supposedly head the central bank for six years.

He also served as ex-officio chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Philippine International Convention Center and the Financial Stability Coordination Council.

BSP said that under his leadership, the agency “continued to pursue major reforms under the theme ‘Continuity Plus Plus’ covering monetary and financial policies, as well as the BSP organizational structure.”

Espenilla started his four-decade career in the central bank with debt analysis. In 2005, he was appointed as BSP deputy governor for supervision and examination sector, in charge of disciplining banks.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Sunday thanked Espenilla for his “complete devotion to his work and great service to the nation”.

“As we express our condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and loved ones of Governor Espenilla, we express our gratitude to the man once in charge of disciplining banks for his complete devotion to his work and great service to the nation,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo noted that the late official “was best remembered by the ordinary Juan de la Cruz for making financial services closer to Filipinos who – we are all aware — transact mostly using non-bank channels.”

Espenilla pioneered an electronic fund transfer system called InstaPay and an automated clearing house dubbed PESONet under a broader regulatory framework, the National Retail Payment System.

These “saw the Philippines’ gradual shift from cash and check-based payment to electronic means,” Panelo said.

“Rest in peace, Governor Nesting,” he added.

BSP said that in a special meeting held on Saturday, the “Monetary Board designated Deputy Governor Almasara Cyd Tuano-Amador as BSP Officer-in-Charge (OIC) effective immediately until such time that President Rodrigo Duterte shall have designated an OIC or appointed a successor.”

Espenilla is survived by his wife, Maria Teresita Festin Espenilla; daughter, Jacqueline Joyce, and son-in-law, Ben Baltazar; sons Nikko Nestor and Leonardo Nestor; and, grandchild, Zev Eron.

The details of the viewing will be announced later, the BSP added. – Robie de Guzman

PH economy to bounce back in Q1 – BSP

Marje Pelayo   •   January 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) predicts that the Philippine economy will recover in the first quarter of 2019.

This, after the crunch in the last quarter of 2018 when inflation hit a record high of 6.2% in December.

Before the end of 2018, the price of basic goods dropped because of improvements in supply and production as well as the series of rollbacks in the price of petroleum products.

From 6.2%, the country’s inflation rate declined to 5.9% in the last quarter of 2018 and the Philippine peso was able to recover against the US dollar.

Likewise, overseas Filipino workers (OFW) remittances increased as expected during the said period which contributed much to improve the country’s economy.

“Actually, malaki ang pumasok na dolyar sa Pilipinas nitong palapit na pagtatapos ng taon. Kaya makikita natin na lalo pang gumanda ang ating gross international reserves. Actually halos dalawang bilyong dolyares ang tinaas ng ating GIR,” explained Francisco Dakila Jr, the Sector-in-Charge, Monetary and Economics Sector of the BSP.

The BSP also noted that the country’s banking system is performing as well as the loan programs from enterprises and households are generating significant revenues.

Meanwhile, the BSP does not see a large impact in the economy from the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise tax.

The BSP also assured it has mitigating measures ready in the event of calamities expected to affect the country throughout the year.

“Well natural calamities naman hindi mo ito talaga mapre-predict. Ang magagawa mo rito ay gawin ang ekonomiya mo na mas resilient. Magkaroon ng natural calamities na makakaresponde ka. Importante doon ang ating infrastructure program,” Dakila said.

The BSP said if inflation remains at its present rate, the possibility of a much lower price of goods will be high and will definitely ease the burden of ordinary citizens. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)


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