By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte has named Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. as the new governor of the Central Bank.
Duterte made the announcement during the 15th Cabinet Meeting in Malacañang Monday evening, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol in his Facebook page.
The appointment was confirmed in a text message sent by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
Espenilla will replace Governor Amando Tetangco, the widely respected career central banker, who will step down in July after serving the maximum two six-year terms allowed under the law.
Espenilla, 58, has served as deputy BSP governor in charge of banking supervision since 2005.
He joined the BSP more than 35 years ago, shortly after graduating magna cum laude in business economics from the University of the Philippines, and has worked in Economic Research, International Operations, and in the Office of the Governor. He was seconded to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1990-1992.
Espenilla has driven many of the BSP’s recent reforms, including raising minimum capital requirements, improving financial transparency, and overhauling mismanaged banks.
The choice of a BSP governor had been regarded as the most crucial economic appointment Duterte will make during his six-year term.
Dominguez described Espenilla’s appointment as a “very wise choice after a thorough evaluation of the future needs of the country.”
According to Dominguez, Duterte made a wise choice after a “thorough evaluation of the future needs of the country and of all the candidates.”
Tetangco backs appointment
He also expressed gratitude to outgoing BSP governor Tetangco for training his potential successors.
“We were fortunate that Governor Tetangco carefully trained his potential successors,” Dominguez said.
The selection of Espenilla suggests a smooth transition and continuity in monetary policy and reforms that kept the banking industry sound, the peso stable, inflation stable and sustained the country’s strong economic growth.
Gov. Tetangco expressed gratitude to President Duterte for his decision. He issued the following statement:
“We thank the President for his decision. The choice of an insider in the person of Deputy Governor Espenilla ensures the continuity of policy and thought process in the BSP.
“DG Espenilla is well respected in the banking community and highly regarded by other central banks and financial regulators both here and abroad. He is also well supported by the BSP family.
“I am confident that with him at the helm, the BSP will continue to be a pillar of support to the economy that should remain among the top performing economies in the world.”
Espenilla headed a shortlist of candidates that also included fellow deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo, East West Banking Corp. chief executive Antonio Moncupa, and former monetary board member and ex-trade minister Peter Favila.
The Philippine economy has long left behind its reputation as a regional laggard. In 2016, it reported annual GDP growth of 6.9 percent, among the fastest in Asia. This year growth is expected to be in the midpoint of the government’s 6.5-7.5 percent target.
According to the National Development Company (NDC), as deputy governor, Espenilla heads the Supervision and Examination sector of BSP, which oversees the supervision of banks and other non-bank financial institutions under the jurisdiction of the BSP.
He serves concurrently in various BSP high-level policy committees including Advisory Committee on Monetary Policy; Financial Stability Committee; Inclusive Finance Steering Committee; and Payment and Settlements Steering Committee.
He is also BSP Representative to the Capital Markets Development Council, alternate Board Member to the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, and alternate Vice-Chair of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
Espenilla also represents the BSP at the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) where the Philippines is one of the only two non-G20 member countries invited to participate, and in the Basel Consultative Group (BCG), where he chairs the Workstream on Financial Inclusion.
He is also alternate Chair of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) and is a member of the Program Management Committee of the Better than Cash Alliance.
NDC said Espenilla also earned an MBA from the University of the Philippines, and an MS in policy science from the Graduate Institute of Policy Science (GRIPS) in Tokyo, Japan. (With reports from Reuters and Chino S. Leyco)