Incoming BSP chief vows to promote greater financial inclusion

By , on May 9, 2017

The Duterte administration’s bid to elevate the lives of the poor got another boost. (Photo: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas/Facebook)
The Duterte administration’s bid to elevate the lives of the poor got another boost. (Photo: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas/Facebook)

MANILA—The Duterte administration’s bid to elevate the lives of the poor got another boost.

This as incoming Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. vows to push for greater financial inclusion and ensure more financial system reforms.

Espenilla, who was appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte Monday as successor of BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., who will step down from his two six-year terms on July 2, 2017, vowed to continue the strong policies the central bank put in place in the past years.

”I would characterize it as continuity plus, plus. It’s all about continuing what we have been doing in our constant surveillance of the monetary and financial system to make sure that it is resilient and stable,” he said in a press conference at the BSP Tuesday.

“At the same time, we have increasingly strengthened our commitments to promoting financial inclusion to create a financial system where no one gets left behind. And where there is strong protection of financial consumers,” he said

Espenilla, who joined the central bank in 1981, is currently the head of the central bank’s Supervision and Examination Sector. He was appointed as Deputy Governor in April 20, 2005.

He graduated Magna cum Laude from UP Diliman School of Economics with a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics in 1980.

He took his Master in Business Administration Honors Program at the UP College of Business Administration. He also attended the Graduate Institute of Policy Science in Tokyo, Japan.

Among his other professional experiences is the Assistant to the Executive Director (Western Pacific) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The BSP’s financial inclusion program has been cited by international organization several times.

In 2015, the country’s microfinance sector was ranked by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) as first in Asia and third in the world, after Peru and Colombia, in terms of regulatory environment for financial inclusion.

Espenilla said he has “always been focused on promoting reforms in the financial system” and he plans to continue this through reforms that targets to promote efficiency of financial system functions.

“It is really where the market orientation of the monetary policy comes in. Our openness to look into the regime of controls on the foreign exchange. These are all meant to potentially ease the cost of doing business and promoting the agility of our economy. So that supports very well the government’s broader agenda of faster and inclusive growth,” he said.

Espenilla said firming up of financial regulatory framework is a must in ensuring that it is at par with global standards.

He said reforms would continue not only in the banking system but the financial system as well “so that it is going to be more responsive to the broader economy.”

“We’re also very keen to heighten the degree of protection towards financial consumers,” he said, stressing that the central bank was “deeply committed to protecting the integrity of the financial system against criminal elements.”

“These will be the defining elements of my term as a governor of the Bangko Sentral,” he said.

“I know the challenge and the burden of the job. Of course I can’t complain because I have sought it. I have prepared for it and I am determined to do it,” he said.

Espenilla said the inflation-targeting policy framework would be maintained and decisions on monetary policy would remain data-driven.

”Don’t expect a significant departure from that process of constantly reviewing the environment…What could improve is ability to capture information and process that data into actionable policy, but directionally, there is continuity,” he said.

Asked about the possible actions of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on the alleged illegal transactions of President Duterte, Espenilla declined to answer affirmative, saying he has yet to assume the highest BSP post.

Among the jobs of the BSP Governor is chair of the policy-making Monetary Board (MB) as well as the AMLC.

Espenilla explained that among the Council’s mandate was to “faithfully implement the anti-money laundering laws.”

“Faithful implementation means complying with the provisions of the law. So when it is my time to chair the Anti-Money Laundering Council then we will have to evaluate the standards by which we are able to comply with the law. And from there decide on what measures to take,” he added.