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Biz Buzz: ‘Succession planning’

/ 12:34 AM March 31, 2017

Three to four weeks. That’s when the country will get a clearer picture of its economic and financial future after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez indicated that the identity of the new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor would be known by then.

And the pressure must be piling on the Chief Executive, with no less than the head of his economic team describing the upcoming choice of central bank chief as “the single most important economic decision the President will make.”

Meanwhile, a game of musical chairs is already being played in anticipation of this event.

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Jesus Roberto “Bobby” Reyes, senior executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer of Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines, will step down from office effective April 30, citing “personal” reasons. (Effective yesterday, March 30, Raquel Palang, UnionBank’s deputy treasurer, has been appointed its acting treasurer.)

The treasury veteran will soon join Gotianun-led East West Bank as the new president and deputy chief executive officer. Antonio Moncupa Jr., on the other hand, will remain East West vice chair and CEO.

If the bank is enlisting a deputy CEO, could this mean that Moncupa may soon get every top Pinoy banker’s dream job? Could this be some succession planning on the part of the Gotianuns? After all, the PDP-Laban has endorsed Moncupa to succeed Amando Tetangco Jr. as the next Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas chief. On the other hand, Dominguez and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. are rumored to be both in favor of an internal appointment.

Moncupa, however, yesterday quashed rumors that he has been picked to be the next BSP chief. “Not by a long shot,” he told Biz Buzz.

Aside from Moncupa, other potential candidates to the BSP post are Diwa Guinigundo and Nestor Espenilla Jr., both currently deputy governors, and veteran banker and former Monetary Board member Peter Favila, who also has a strong backing among the President’s key political allies.

Whether or not President Duterte realizes it, his choice of the next BSP chief is keeping the business community jittery. One economist has even described it as a potential “black swan” event for the Philippines. The President must make a prudent choice and announce it soon. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

Tieza gets new boss

There’s a new boss at the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) —the agency responsible for improving the country’s tourism infrastructure—in the person of Pocholo Joselito Paragas.

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Appointed recently by President Duterte as Tieza’s new general manager and chief operating officer, Paragas will have his hands full if the country wants to draw in more tourists by improving the local infrastructure.

Administratively under the Department of Tourism, Tieza is responsible for implementing policies and programs of the department to develop, promote and supervise tourism projects in the Philippines.

As the infrastructure arm of DOT, the agency also has to merge public and private initiatives and investments in tourism, aligning these with policies set by its board chair, the secretary of tourism.

On the upside, Paragas has a good resumé, having carved a niche for himself in business development after graduating with a degree in landscape architecture from the University of the Philippines in Diliman and taking up Master’s in Business Administration units at Ateneo de Manila University.

He also has two decades’ worth of experience with private enterprises and consultancy in banking and finance, land development and the tourism service industry, the last of which dovetails into the role as Tieza chief.

Apart from Paragas, Tieza is run by a board of directors made up of the secretaries of tourism; public works and highways; environment and natural resources and the interior and local government. Also serving on its board are the Tieza chief operating officer, the Tourism Promotion Board’s own chief operating officer and five representative directors recommended by the Tourism Congress.

Of course, everyone knows that the country has some major catching up to do if it wants to maximize its tourism potential. Let’s hope the team gels well and gets those badly needed infrastructure projects off the ground. —DAXIM L. LUCAS
Speaking of which…

Employees at the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) are feeling the heat, but it’s not due the summer season.

Sources have informed Biz Buzz that TPB chief operating officer Cesar Montano is planning to bring in investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to find out who among the government agency’s employees filed a complaint against him with the Presidential Action Center (PACE) regarding alleged irregularities he supposedly committed.

“It’s so gloomy at the office,” said one official. “You don’t know who to trust anymore. And we heard he [Montano] wants to bring in the NBI to investigate who filed the complaint against him.”

Other sources hinted that TPB management was set to form a “fact-finding group” to ferret out the source of the white paper, which was sent to PACE. Another added, “There’s even a supposed ‘consultant’ who has been going around, asking questions from some employees in the guise of trying to help smooth out the operations of TPB, but I think he is just trying to fish for information about who is the source of the white paper.”

The same source said employees were told that this consultant comes from Malacañang, “but no one wants to ask him directly what his credentials are. We’re all afraid there might be repercussions.”

Recently, when some employees wore black clothing, the consultant reportedly accosted several of them, pressing them why they were wearing the color. TPB insiders said the employees wore black as a form of protest against Montano’s management.

Informed about the possible entry of NBI investigators, one TPB employee said, “maybe he [Montano] should address the issues against him, instead of bringing in the NBI.”

“Everyone is working under a cloud of suspicion,” said another employee. “A few officials were already directly asked if they were the source of the complaint at PACE.”

Employees are hoping that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee will investigate the issue soon. The government agency, which handles the domestic and foreign promotion activities for Philippines destinations, is staffed by career service government employees, many of whom are now considering to leave their posts. “It’s just so oppressive in the office these days. It’s not fun anymore,” one employee said. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

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TAGS: economic and financial future, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor
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