Maestro of central banking

Published March 20, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Atty. Jun de Zuñiga
Atty. Jun de Zuñiga

With the countless tributes and numerous testimonials written and delivered about the late BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., or “Gov. Nesting,” who was finally laid to rest on March 2, 2019, how does one add his humble esteem for this great man? I consider it a distinct honor to dedicate this piece to him.

His friends, classmates, peers in the banking and financial sectors, and many others whose lives he touched had honored him in respect of his friendship and outstanding service to the country. He was remembered as a man of simplicity but with valiant character and integrity, a brilliant scholar, a devoted husband and father, and a loyal and dependable friend. In his public service as BSP governor, he was cited for his exemplary leadership, for introducing reforms in the banking system, for strongly pushing the financial system towards digitalization, and for championing financial inclusion.

He was recognized as a vanguard of a sound banking system and, thus, was willing to play the “bad cop” role in closing insolvent banks, in being forthright in dealing with violators of banking regulations, and in leading the Anti-Money Laundering Council in its campaign against money launderers. To him the rule is clear – one has to abide with the law and best practices. He was also widely credited for advocating the legislation of the National Payments System Act and of the amendments to the BSP charter, with both laws meant to strengthen further the financial system.

His achievements, backed up by excellent credentials, meant that he had a full grasp of his responsibilities, that he understood each component he had to deal with, and that he had carefully laid down programs for their attainment. He had familiarity with all the performers, their capability and strong points, their character and trustworthiness, even their areas for improvement. The challenges he faced were awesome, but he had the confidence and authoritativeness to cope with them. I likened him, therefore, to a masterful conductor, with the universe of central banking being his stage. He had to encompass, with expertise, the entire breadth of his symphonic performance – from price and financial stability to an efficient payments system, and reaching down to the level of instruments involving economic research, treasury, currency issue, bank supervision and internal administration. And it was an outstanding performance.

All the elements were at his fingertips and within his knowledge and he knew that he cannot perform his opus alone. He knew that he had to get also the best from his cast. This is what inspired him to implement the talent optimization program within the Bangko Sentral – to help him come out with the best notes for their grand performance. He thus wielded his baton to motivate and to inspire, to gain support, and to make sure that everyone is capable, fit and proper, leading to an impressive concert.

As such, I consider him a master, or one highly skilled in directing a performance, and highly regarded and respected as such as well. The word “master” is the root word of the description of one who has attained higher eminence and thus is called a “maestro.” Gov. Nesting was thus a maestro of central banking. And I congratulate him for a job well done. Bravo!

The above comments are the personal views of the writer. His email address is [email protected]