BSP ready with 'full powers,' looking at data ahead of policy meeting


Posted at Jun 08 2020 09:57 AM | Updated as of Jun 08 2020 10:12 PM

MANILA -- Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Monday he was ready to deploy his "full powers" to aid the economy, with lawmakers yet to pass fresh stimulus against the coronavirus pandemic.

The BSP is "looking at data" ahead of its June 25 meeting, Diokno said. Diokno has cut the benchmark borrowing rate by 125 basis points this year, 100 of which was delivered during the 11-week virus lockdown.

"If there's a need for further loosening we will apply the full powers of the central bank," he told Market Edge.

"I'm not saying we're not gonna cut this year, or in the next meeting, but we're closely looking at the data," he said.

Diokno also slashed 200 basis points off the reserve requirement ratio or RRR for banks.

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The Senate and the House went on recess last week without passing additional stimulus to buoy the shrinking economy. Lawmakers also failed to pass the second tranche of tax reforms that sought to slash the corporate income tax to 25 percent from 30 percent.

Diokno said he was confident that fresh stimulus would be passed "in a few days." Central bank staff are "working closely" with the executive department on the stimulus, he said.

The government is "moving in that direction," Diokno said, when asked about the possibility of a special session for COVID-19 stimulus. According to lawmakers' official calendar, sessions will resume when President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address on July 27.

The Philippines also reported a record unemployment rate of 17.7 percent in the quarter ended April, which padded the number of jobless Filipinos to 7.3 million.

The jobless numbers reflected the toll of the lockdown on the economy, which shrank by 0.2 percent in the quarter ended March, with the numbers for the second quarter expected to get worse.

Metro Manila and other urban areas shifted to a general community quarantine on June 1, after 11 weeks under lockdown or enhanced community quarantine. Under GCQ, business and public transport resumed at limited capacity.