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Diokno: I am most qualified as BSP chief

/ 05:28 AM March 07, 2019

Economic managers on Wednesday allayed fears the appointment of new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno was “politicized” and would affect the independence of the central bank when it makes policy decisions.

In a business forum on Wednesday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the head of the Duterte administration’s economic team, said the BSP charter was “very clear” in maintaining the independence of the central bank and the Monetary Board, its highest policymaking body.

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“There is no plan or no effort to take over or influence their decisions. I sit in the Monetary Board, and what I do there, I take off my Finance Secretary hat. And really, the way the deliberations are done, is that they take a look at the data—they have very, very good analysts,” said Dominguez, who represents President Duterte’s Cabinet in the seven-member body.

As the government’s representative, Dominguez noted that he had only one-seventh of the vote.

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The Finance chief said Diokno was “the most qualified” for the top BSP post, noting the outgoing budget secretary had several economics degrees tucked under his belt and a vast experience working not only in government but also in the private sector and academe.

In a separate press conference, Diokno said he was most qualified for the job even as critics assailed President Duterte’s appointment of an “outsider” or a non-BSP career official.

“Number one, I’m not a politician. In other countries, it’s normal that the chairman of the Fed [US Federal Reserve] or the governor of the central bank comes from the academe. The prerogative to appoint the governor is the President’s, so I do not question his decision, and nobody should. There’s no birthright to claim that the governor should come from this group or that group,” Diokno said.

“In fact, what is bad is you appoint a banker—anybody but a banker. You don’t want a banker as a central bank governor because then you appoint one of the boys to the central bank. And that’s bad for the economy,” he added.

Diokno said about eight names were submitted for the President’s consideration for the BSP governor position.

While Diokno as an economist and as a former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary was accessible and freely responded to media’s queries, this time around: “I have to be more circumspect than before rather than make direct statements,” Diokno said. —BEN O. DE VERA

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TAGS: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Benjamin E. Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III
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