BSP's Diokno looking to 'ramp up growth' after Q1 slowdown: Pernia


Posted at May 09 2019 10:52 AM

MANILA -- Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno could be "thinking about what to do to ramp up growth," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Thursday after first quarter economic growth fell below forecasts.

Gross domestic product grew 5.6 percent in the January to March period, the slowest in 16 quarters, dragged by the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget. The data was released hours before Diokno was to convene a meeting of the Monetary Board.

Pernia said Diokno sent him a text message before the GDP data announcement, asking for growth figures. Diokno was budget secretary before he was named central bank governor in March.

"What is the growth rate?" Pernia quoted Diokno as saying. "They want to already think about what to do to ramp up economic growth in the succeeding quarters."

Pernia said Diokno had signaled a "pro-growth" stand in his first public comments as BSP governor.

The socioeconomic planning chief said he did not want to second-guess the Monetary Board on its decision later Thursday.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 1.68 percent after the GDP data was announced.

Some analysts said the Monetary Board could cut the benchmark borrowing rate by 25 basis points and the reserve requirement ratio or RRR for banks by 1 percentage point as early as Thursday.

The BSP raised the benchmark rate by 175 basis points last year to contain inflation that, at that time, hovered near 10-year highs. The RRR stood at 18 percent, among the highest in the region.

Inflation in April slowed for the sixth straight month and stayed within the BSP's 2 to 4 percent goal for the third straight month, according to data released last Tuesday.