By CHINO S. LEYCO
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is confident that the country will have better economic growth performance, subdued inflation and lower poverty incidence this year.
During the Tuesday Club Meeting yesterday, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said the Philippines would remain one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the most resilient this year.
“I have high hopes that 2020 will be an even better year,” Diokno told reporters.
“I am confident that the quality of life of Filipinos will further improve this year. Economic growth will be faster. Inflation will continue to be subdued and on target. More quality jobs will be created. More Filipinos will be lifted out of poverty,” he added.
Diokno also said that Metro Manila traffic will improve with the completion of big infrastructure projects, giving commuters more time to spend with their loved ones.
Meanwhile, Diokno said the BSP had a stellar year in 2019, noting the central bank’s efforts have resulted in tangible results—“the way economic growth has improved the lives of ordinary Filipinos.”
In particular, he said inflation rate remained low and within target last year from 6.7 percent in 2018 down to a record low of 0.8 percent in September and October 2019.
“We estimated that the 2019 average inflation would be at 2.4 percent, down from the previous year’s 5.2 percent,” the BSP chief said. The actual full-year rate was at 2.5 percent.
“The low and stable inflation ensured the strong purchasing power of our countrymen and afforded them a sense of security in making other economic decisions such as saving and investing,” Diokno said.
He further said that the BSP also steadily built up the country’s gross international reserves (GIR), which provides an “abundant” buffer to meet foreign exchange demands and liquidity requirements.
At end-2019, the country’s GIR stood at a record high of $87 billion.
In 2019, the BSP was also approved and registered non-bank financial institutions such as pawnshops, money service businesses, and non-stock savings and loan associations to serve as intermediaries to the unbanked, unserved and underserved Filipinos.
Diokno also said the BSP spearheaded two initiatives to establish and maintain an efficient payments and settlement system in the country—the EGov Pay Philippines and the Digital Tax Payment Service using PESONet.
Another key initiative in 2019 was the issuance of the policy on the adoption of a national quick response or QR code standard in the country, paving the way for the launching of “QRPh” as the National QR code standard.
Last year, Congress also passed and the President signed into law the amendments to the BSP Charter, which strengthened the country’s international reserves, and regulation of the organization of Islamic banks.
“These laws further strengthen the BSP’s capability to respond to the needs of a fast-growing economy in a rapidly changing global financial environment,” Diokno said.
The central bank, likewise, accelerated implementation of the Basic Deposit Account which includes the minimum key features of simplified know-your-customer (KYC) requirements.
The BSP also allowed banks to open an account with an amount of less than P100, while the minimum maintaining balance and dormancy charges were removed.
“To date, this has resulted in its implementation in 113 banks, benefiting a total of 2.2 million account holders,” Diokno said.
Diokno also said the BSP is now gearing up for the printing of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) cards envisioned to simplify public and private transactions through a reliable and nationally accepted proof of identity.
“All these and more are being done by the BSP in an effort to make a difference in the lives of every Filipino and to bring the central bank closer to the people,” Diokno said.