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Marcos names new finance chief and central bank governor

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno

MANILA – Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday announced the current central bank governor Benjamin Diokno would be his finance minister when he takes office next month.

Diokno will be replaced by Felipe Medalla as Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor, Marcos said in an interview conducted by his press new secretary, which was streamed on his Facebook page.

Medalla is a member of the central bank’s monetary board.

Marcos said his first priority would be the economy, particularly addressing rising inflation and the need for job generation.

The appointments indicate another continuity move by Marcos, who is expected to expand on many of the economic policies of incumbent Rodrigo Duterte, including a major infrastructure overhaul.

Diokno, a budget secretary under the Duterte administration before he was appointed central bank governor, said he was committed to carefully managing the economy.

“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, Diokno said in a statement.

Marcos also named Emmanuel Bonoan as public works secretary and Alfredo Pascual as trade secretary.

The broader stock index was flat on Thursday, after Marcos’s announcements about his economic team.

The BSP raised interest rates for the first time since 2018 on May 19, joining peers around world in a rush to stem intensifying inflationary pressures.

Marcos is inheriting an economy on a stronger footing, having expanded 8.3% in the first quarter from a year earlier.

The current government this week narrowed its growth target to 7.0%-8.0% from the previous range of 7.0%-9.0% to take into account external risks.

Analysts say the new administration will have to deal with huge amount of debt from the current government’s pandemic borrowing, which could limit his room to take on more debt to finance government projects or support growth. — Reuters

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