Diokno is finance chief

Published May 26, 2022, 11:36 AM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno early Thursday, May 26, said that he has accepted his new position as incoming Secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF) under President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s government which starts on June 30.

“As Finance Secretary, I will strive to continue prudently and carefully balancing the need to support economic growth, on one hand, and to maintain fiscal discipline, on the other,” said Diokno in a statement following the announcement by President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the appointments in his economic team.

Felipe M. Medalla, also former socio-economic planning secretary and a current member of the Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the central bank, will replace Diokno as the first BSP governor under the Marcos administration.

Diokno served as budget secretary of the Duterte administration before he was appointed BSP’s fifth governor in March 2019.

By accepting the DOF position, Diokno has cut short his term as BSP governor. He was supposed to end his term on July 3, 2023. A central bank chief has a fixed six-year term. Diokno took over the late Nestor A. Espenilla Jr.’s remaining four years in 2019. Espenilla passed away on Feb. 23, 2019 due to cancer.

Diokno said that he is “grateful and humbled” that Marcos has given him “trust” to manage the country’s fiscal affairs, stressing on “the importance of policy continuity.”

“Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines was poised to transition into an upper-middle-income economy, thanks largely to sound economic policies put in place over decades by multiple administrations. As the country transitions to the next administration, it is my view that continuity of sound macro and fiscal policies is important to achieve the stronger post-COVID Philippine economy that we all aim for,” he added.

Diokno in January this year was named 2022’s “Global Central Banker of the Year” by UK-based publication The Banker, in recognition of a job well-done amid the two-year pandemic. He is the first Philippine central bank governor awarded the top prize by the Financial Times Ltd.-owned The Banker. He is also the “Asia-Pacific Central Banker of the Year”.

Diokno and the BSP are both reconized by their successful efforts to ensure the stability of the domestic economy’s recovery by focusing on financial security and economic resilience while there is still a COVID-19 public health crisis.

The BSP on Thursday said that under Diokno’s three-year watch, the BSP was considered one of the first responders among other central banks when the global health crisis was announced on March 2020.

“The prompt and extraordinary monetary measures provided a significant cushion to the current state of the Philippine economy,” said the BSP.

Diokno was budget secretary during the terms of former President Joseph Estrada and President Rodrigo Duterte.

Diokno finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration (1968) and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration (1970) and Economics (1974) at the University of the Philippines. He also holds an M.A. in Political Economy (1976) from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Diokno likewise has a Ph.D. in Economics (1981) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, USA. In 2017, UP accorded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.