Int’l bank proposes peso ‘globalization’
PARIS—Bouyed by his rockstar welcome, President Aquino announced he also received an equally “shocking” suggestion from an international bank proposing the “globalization” of the Philippine peso.
Breaking the news before a gathering of Filipinos on Wednesday night (1:30 a.m. Thursday in Manila), the President said he had asked Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to study the proposal, which Aquino found surprising by his own standards.
“I thought I was a bit difficult to surprise. But I was shocked when this big bank told me that we should ‘globalize’ the peso,” he said in a speech at the Chapelle Sainte Bernadette.
“Never had I thought that anyone would ever make such a suggestion, believing that the Philippines is in such a good shape that he would be willing to invest in our currency because he believes in the stability of our economy.”
“Internationalizing” the local currency will allow nonresidents to transact in peso and exports can be invoiced in the same currency, reducing foreign exchange costs. Government can also issue peso-denominated debt overseas more competitively.
New profit opportunities
An internationalized currency “offers new profit opportunities to private sector financial institutions, although this benefit may be offset in part by the entry of foreign financial institutions into the domestic financial market, to the extent that the government permits it,” according to the late international economist Peter Kenen.
But it could also “pose new risks to the domestic financial system due to the issuance of foreign debt to a country’s residents.”
Aquino received a rousing welcome from Filipinos when he came by for what was supposedly a relatively short meeting on the sidelines of his two-day trip in Paris. With his compatriots raring for a photo opportunity, the President accommodated them and ended up staying at the Chapelle Sainte Bernadette long after he delivered his speech.
The message, delivered in folksy Filipino, sought to inspire the Filipino community here with stories of what he called “transformation” now happening in their home country since he took office four years ago.
He described a government that now “cares” for its people by using public funds properly and that agencies were working for their benefit.
Judging by the crowd reaction, the affair had the feel of a celebrity stopping by for a meet-and-greet, not a politician about to deliver an obligatory speech and was himself mired in controversies back home. People brought out their iPhones, iPads, and selfie sticks, competing for the best available view of Aquino, who was visiting Europe for the first time as President.
“There he is! There he is!” many of them shouted in Filipino, waving small Philippine flags with one hand, the other one pointing to the man forced to waddle along a corridor congested by well-wishers.
Outside, a French man driving a sedan got curious about the presence of so many Filipinos, many of them assembled across the chapel and beside the entrance.
“Why so many people?” he asked the Inquirer in broken English then gave a “thumbs-up” sign when told the President was here.
A Filipino woman said she had left work a hour early just to see Aquino. Those who managed to find seats inside the chapel considered themselves lucky, having been allowed to take pictures with their VIP guest.
Besides the serious stuff about how the Philippines had “improved” under his watch, Aquino entertained the crowd with jokes and sardonic remarks about the supposed excesses of his predecessor.
The President was supposed to get a breather Thursday night with a scheduled private tour of the Louvre museum.
Accustomed to criticisms
In his meeting with the Filipino community here, Aquino took the opportunity to unburden himself before his captive audience, saying he had grown accustomed to brickbats from critics.
At home, the President is under fire for flirting with the idea of a second term, a move that would require a constitutional amendment. Earlier this week, he said “nothing is impossible” and it could still be done with less than two years left before the next elections.
In the speech, he made it clear that he had only six years, saying “I will make the most out of every opportunity to deliver benefits to the greater number of Filipinos.”
“Some people are asking: Will the [reforms] still continue? Who will do that?” he said.
“Perhaps they’re asking the wrong question because it’s clear that we were able to do all this because we are all united, we persevered and we paddled toward the same direction.”
“Since that’s the case, all of us Filipinos would be the ones to continue what we have started. This is not dependent on one person or group alone.”
The President left for a fellowship dinner about an hour later. Filipinos began filing out of the chapel, showing off their precious photos with the man who claims he brought back a government that cared for its people.
On Thursday, Aquino witnessed the ceremonial signing of agreements for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 at a business forum here.
One was a technical services agreement between the Light Rail Consortium and the French transport firm RATP Developpement for operation and maintenance of the Manila LRT 1 Cavite Extension Project.
Another was with French engineering firm Bouygues Publics Travoix, Alstom Transport for the “design and construction” of the LRT 1 Extension Project, which would provide eight more stations spanning 12 kilometers.
Originally posted at 4:48 pm | Thursday, September 18, 2014
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