‘To create a financial system where no one gets left behind’
Incoming Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. promised policy continuity in the country’s highest monetary authority during his six-year term, which will start this July.
The Department of Finance announced his appointment Monday evening. He will replace two-term BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.
“I would characterize it as continuity, plus, plus,” he told reporters in a press briefing at the BSP Complex in Manila on Tuesday, describing the direction in which he would take the central bank under his leadership.
“It is all about continuing what we have been doing in constant surveillance of the monetary and financial system to make sure it is resilient and stable.”
Espenilla currently heads the BSP’s Supervision and Examination Sector, which oversees banks and other non-financial institutions.
Focus on inflation, financial inclusion
In the monetary policy perspective, Espenilla said the BSP will still adhere to the inflation-targeting approach of the outgoing central bank administration and will continue to survey and understand the economic context under which it operates.
“We will continue to pursue, for example, the Basel 3 reforms and I don’t think we should expect significant deviation from that. We will reshape the financial system so that is going to be more responsive to the economy,” he said.
At the same time, Espenilla said, the BSP will continue to strengthen its commitment to promoting financial inclusion.
“To create a financial system where no one gets left behind and where there is strong direction of financial consumers,” he said, noting that under the National Retail Payment System, the BSP is betting on digitization.
To keep financial system safe
The new leadership also renewed its commitment to protect the integrity of the financial system against criminal elements.
The central bank is set to pursue its ambitious legislative agenda, which includes pending amendments to the BSP Charter; relaxing deposit secrecy; expanding the coverage of Anti-Money Laundering Law to include casinos; and putting a proper payments system act in place,
“These are just some of the very important pieces of legislation which we need to work out with Congress to enact them so that we will be able to increase the effectiveness of our oversight over the financial system,” Espenilla said.
In the case of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, which is chaired by the BSP governor, Espenilla said his leadership will implement the mandate of the Council faithfully by complying with the provisions of the law.
“When it is my time to chair the AMLC, we will have to evaluate the standards by which we are able to comply with the law and from there decide on what measures we shall be taking,” he said.
“These will be the defining elements of my term as governor of the Bangko Sentral,” he added.
Long BSP career
Espenilla joined the BSP in 1981. Juggling work and school, he rose through the ranks and was appointed deputy governor on April 20, 2005.
Espenilla steered the BSP toward the development and implementation of financially inclusive banking regulations that put high priority on the needs of the Filipino consumer, including the institution of the NRPS project.
He promoted a more inclusive banking system, calling for access and improved delivery of a broad array of financial services to micro, small and medium enterprises and low-income individuals.
As deputy governor responsible for banking and financial system supervision, Espenilla championed banking reforms such as open competition, liberalization, fair treatment of customers and financial transparency.
Besides his post in the BSP, Espenilla also holds other local and international positions.
He is concurrent chairman of the Executive Meeting of East Asia Pacific Central Banks (EMEAP) Working Group on Banking Supervision, and of the Basel Consultative Group Workstream on Financial Inclusion. He is also the BSP representative to the Global Policy Forum for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) of the G-20.
In the Philippines, he is alternate vice chairman of Agricultural Credit Policy Council; alternate director of Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., of National Development Co.; and BSP representative to the MSME Development Council, Financial Sector Forum (FSF), Capital Market Development Council and of the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp.
“My sincere appreciation to the President [Duterte] for his trust and confidence in appointing me. I also express appreciation to Secretary Dominguez for his support of that choice. Of course, I am grateful to my mentor, Governor Amando “Say” Tetangco Jr., who … created a very strong organization which I will inherit,” he said.
“As a career public servant, it is a realization of a dream. As I have said, this is something I worked hard for,” he added.