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New BSP chief to sustain reforms

FELIPE M. MEDALLA / COURTESY OF BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS

PHILIPPINE CENTRAL BANK Governor Felipe M. Medalla would continue the “game-changing” reforms of the central bank, including its digitalization initiatives amid challenges to the country’s financial system, his predecessor said on Monday.

“I am confident that with the leadership of your new team captain — Governor Medalla — and the Monetary Board, you will continue to deliver game-changing reforms and bring the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) even closer to the Filipino people,” former BSP governor and now Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a speech at the BSP’s 29th anniversary and turnover ceremony.

The central bank’s transformation road map on digital payments would make significant strides under Mr. Medalla’s leadership, he added.

The BSP launched the road map for 2020 to 2023, charting its initiatives toward an efficient, inclusive, safe and secure digital payment ecosystem.

The promotion of digital transformation is at the forefront of the BSP’s policy agenda as the country transitions into a cash-lite society.

Digitalization of payments has allowed households, businesses and the government to do business online amid lockdowns spurred by a global coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Diokno recounted uncertainties and how the central bank provided “a sense of confidence and predictability” at the height of the pandemic that has killed more than 60,000 Filipinos and 6.4 million worldwide.

“We have gone through a crisis like no other, with no emergency response playbook to which we could refer,” he said. “But we kept our eyes on the ball. We remained agile and innovative. We boosted market confidence. We implemented extraordinary liquidity measures.”

The central bank worked closely with other agencies and stakeholders in enforcing financial reforms including consumer protection, he added.

These reforms provided relief to pandemic-hit sectors and safeguarded consumers from unethical and fraudulent financial schemes, Mr. Diokno said.

He also cited the BSP’s help in the approval of the Gold Law, Philippine Identification System Act, Islamic Banking Law and changes to the BSP charter before the pandemic.

Under the former governor’s leadership, the central bank promoted green finance, studied the feasibility of a central bank digital currency and released the country’s first polymer banknote.

“We have kept a patient hand on our monetary policy levers in the face of rising inflation to allow our economic recovery to gain a stronger foothold,” Mr. Diokno said.

“Our banking sector continues to be sound and stable — the result of good corporate governance and appropriate risk management practices, as well as sound banking sector regulations and a robust supervisory framework,” he added. — Keisha B. Ta-asan

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