Business community lauds appointment of economic team

Published May 26, 2022, 6:01 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The business community welcomed President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s appointments of his economic team, which is seen as very crucial in the formulation of policies to steer the domestic economy’s recovery from the pandemic in the years ahead.

Marcos announced the appointment of current Monetary Board Member Felipe M. Medalla, an economist and former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) director general, as Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor, to replace Benjamin E. Diokno who was named finance secretary and head of the economic team. Also appointed was, Management Association of the Philippines President Alfredo “Fred” Espinosa Pascual as trade and industry chief. Another key member of the team is outgoing Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan who was earlier nominated socio-economic planning secretary and concurrent NEDA chief.

Still to be appointed is the Department of Budget Management secretary, a pivot person in Development Budget Coordinating Committee.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) noted the economic managers’ critical job of steering the economy for the next six years as the government grapples with fiscal woes brought by the pandemic and other economic issues. The pandemic has saddled government coffers with over P12.7- trillion debt.

“The business community is delighted to learn about the appointment of BSP Governor in Diokno as Secretary of Finance, who will head the administration team, said PCCI President George T. Barcelon.

The PCCI noted the economic managers’ critical job of steering the economy for the next six years as the government grapples with fiscal woes brought by the pandemic and other economic issues.

“They are all seasoned and competent economic leaders. We believe they would do good in managing our fiscal affairs. As you know, we are faced with critical issues such as the huge debt deficit, and the need for post pandemic reforms and programs to sustain recovery, among others,” said Barcelon.

The PCCI head is optimistic that their appointments would bring confidence to local and foreign businesses investors. “We are fortunate that we have a strong foundation and we remain among one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. There remain some policy issues that needed to be addressed to accelerate our growth momentum,” Barcelon added.

Makati Business Club (MBC) Executive Director Coco Alcuaz said, “The appointment of these experienced, well-known leaders should boost the confidence of local and foreign businesses, from MSMEs to big players, that the new administration will promote liberalization and inclusive policies that will accelerate job creation, competition, and economic recovery.”

“As the first economic czar who has headed the two other big economic agencies — DBM and BSP — Gov. Diokno will have rare insight on how the government and private sector work together to boost jobs and growth,” Alcuaz said on Diokno’s appointment at DOF.

Francis Chua, founding chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, said “Diokno and Medalla are well experienced.” He cited Diokno’s profound knowledge can surely help the country if there are financial crisis.

On the next trade and industry secretary, Chua said that the incoming secretary Pascual is a good choice. “I can’t find a better choice than Pascual to succeed outgoing DTI Secretary Mon Lopez,” he added.

The exporters and employers groups also lauded the economic team appointments. “We are very happy with the appointments. What people were worrying before was the selection were political, but it looks like that Marcos is really going out of the way to choose the best way possible,” said Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., who is president of both the Philippine Exporters Confederation and Employers Confederation of the Philippines.

Ortiz-Luis also noted that “Balisacan has working relationship with the late President Benigno Simeon Aquino III while incoming DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual has no political affiliation and incoming Finance Secretary Ben Diokno is not related politically, same with incoming new BSP Governor Felipe Medalla, who are from the University of the Philippines.”

“They (Marcos administration) are looking for the best and we are glad that they (appointees) are asked to serve,” he said.

“We have high hopes in this team and they will have same stature and the respect of the business community as we are going to get out of this economic situation and huge borrowings,” he said.

He said that had the Marcos administration appointed a “weaker” economic team, people will really worry. “But this team, there is no politics. They chose a good economic team,” he said.

Meantime, outgoing DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez congratulated his successor incoming Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

“With his competence, integrity, energy and a wide range of experience in different industries, I know he will steer DTI towards greater heights in the years ahead. He is an excellent choice!

I will be leaving DTI in the most capable hands of Secretary Pascual. Will definitely extend my full support to him for a smooth transition and beyond,” said Lopez.

Pascual is the president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) for 2022 as the 73rd leader of MAP since its inception in 1950.

A governance advocate, Pascual currently serves as the Lead Independent Director (ID) at SM Investments Corp. He is also an ID at other publicly-listed companies, including Megawide Construction and Concepcion Industrial. His board seats include nonprofits and other organizations, such as Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), FINEX Academy, University of the Philippines (UP) Foundation, Philippine Council for Foreign Relations, and US-Philippines Society. He led ICD as President and CEO in 2018-2019.

From 2011-2017, he served as President and Co-Chair of UP after serving Alumni Regent on the UP Board.