Marcos Jr taps BSP Gov Benjamin Diokno as next Finance chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2022 10:58 AM | Updated as of May 26 2022 11:17 AM

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) new governer, Benjamin Diokno during an interview with Cathy Yang for ANC’s The Boss, held at the BSP headquarters in Manila on March 12, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) new governer, Benjamin Diokno during an interview with Cathy Yang for ANC’s The Boss, held at the BSP headquarters in Manila on March 12, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno was chosen by President-elect Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr to head the Department of Finance (DOF).

"I will be nominating... Diokno for the position of Secretary of Finance. He has already agreed," Marcos said in a press conference. 

Diokno will replace Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. 

In a statement, Diokno said has accepted his nomination to Marcos' cabinet.

“It is an honor to serve the Filipino people in my current and any future capacity. I am grateful and humbled by the trust given to me by the President-elect to help his administration manage the country’s fiscal affairs,” Diokno said.

With his appointment to the DOF, Diokno will cut short his term as BSP chief, which was scheduled to end in July 2023. 

He will be succeeded in the BSP by incumbent Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla, who also served as Socioeconomic Planning Secretary during the term of former President Joseph Estrada.

Under Diokno, the BSP reduced interest rates to historic lows to help keep businesses afloat amid the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The BSP's robust reserves have also been cited as helping maintain the country's investment-grade rating despite the downgrades globally. 

The BSP however has begun to roll back its "accommodative" monetary policy amid quickening inflation as oil prices surged globally due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Diokno championed digital payments and financial inclusion through the BSP's Digitalization Roadmap, which aims to convert 50 percent of payments to digital and encourage 70 percent of the adult population to open bank accounts by 2023. 

He also strongly backed the Philippine National ID System (PhilSys), which he said would support financial inclusion in the country. 

Diokno in 2021 approved digital banks as a new banking category which enabled fintech firms to set up operations in the country to further drive financial inclusivity.

He also led the central bank digital currency test project which is set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“As Finance Secretary, I will strive to continue prudently and carefully balancing the need to support economic growth, on one hand, and to maintain fiscal discipline, on the other,” Diokno added.

Prior to his stint as the central bank chief, Diokno served under the Budget Department under 3 administrations. 

He was Budget Undersecretary from 1986 to 1991, Budget Secretary from 1998 to 2001, and from 2016 to 2019.

DIokno holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration and a Master's Degree in Public Administration as well as in Economics from the University of the Philippines, a Master of Arts in Political Economy from the Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Economics from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

According to the BSP, he is Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Marcos Jr earlier announced Philippine Competition Commission chairperson Arsenio Balisacan was chosen to become the next Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

He asked for a few more days to complete his core economic team.

Creating an experienced economic team is crucial for the next administration since the government is facing escalated inflation and a higher debt-to-GPD ratio at 63.5 percent. 

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