New Monetary Board appointments welcomed

THE NEW Monetary Board members are expected to uphold the Philippine central bank’s priorities in keeping price and financial stability, market players said.

The Presidential Communications Office on Saturday announced National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon and former Finance undersecretary Romeo L. Bernardo as the new members of the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“They are both qualified given their extensive background in the industry and are highly regarded by their peers,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a Viber message.   

“The Monetary Board should maintain its priorities by combatting inflation, keeping the peso competitive, strengthening the banking system among others as it makes sure the interests of all Filipinos are kept in mind,” he added.   

The appointment of Ms. De Leon and Mr. Bernardo will bring the current number of Monetary Board members to six. President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has yet to announce the seventh member of the Monetary Board.

The board is chaired by BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona, Jr., and members include Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Bruce J. Tolentino and Anita Linda R. Aquino.

Three seats were vacated by former BSP governor Felipe M. Medalla, Antonio S. Abacan, Jr. and Peter B. Favila whose terms expired in July.

China Bank Capital Corp. Managing Director Juan Paolo E. Colet said Ms. De Leon and Mr. Bernardo are widely respected in the banking industry and will bring in a lot of value to monetary policy.

“Ms. De Leon and Mr. Bernardo are impressive additions to the Monetary Board given their extensive financial sector expertise, market knowledge, and policy experience,” Mr. Colet said in a Viber message.

In July last year, Ms. De Leon was reappointed as the Treasurer of the Philippines for the third time.

Ms. De Leon told reporters in a Viber message late on Saturday that she is not yet “signing off” as the country’s national treasurer and will still lead the coming auctions.   

She also assumed key positions in the Department of Finance (DoF), such as undersecretary for the International Finance Group (IFG) from July 2007 to November 2012, chief of staff from July 2005 to June 2010, as well as director for the IFG from September 1995 to August 1998.

She also served as the alternate executive director at the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., and held the position of advisor to the executive director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) from August 1998 to August 2004.

Ms. De Leon obtained her Master of Arts in Development Economics from Williams College in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bernardo served as an undersecretary of the DoF and alternate executive director of ADB. He was also an advisor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He is a member of the Philippine World Bank Advisory Group and the Panel of Conciliators of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Mr. Bernardo is also the managing director of Lazaro Bernardo Tiu and Associates and an analyst for the Philippines at GlobalSource Partners.

“The immediate and primary priorities are reducing inflation and maintaining foreign exchange stability,” Mr. Colet said.   

“Eventually, the Monetary Board would have to make a timely call on when to start recalibrating interest rates and cutting bank reserve requirements to ensure that, at the very least, the economy has a soft landing,” he added.

Mr. Remolona earlier said that policy easing is not on the radar this year as inflation remains above the 2-4% target.   

The Monetary Board will next meet on Sept. 21 to discuss policy. — Keisha B. Ta-asan

Neil Banzuelo

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