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Powerful BSP body faces pandemic with 2 new members

Powerful BSP body faces pandemic with 2 new members

MANILA, Philippines — One new member will join the powerful Monetary Board, while another will get a fresh term at the body now facing the delicate task of ensuring liquidity remains ample to assist economic recovery from the pandemic. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said its seven-member policymaking board remains complete after President Rodrigo Duterte appointed V. Bruce Tolentino and Anita Linda Aquino as “full-time private sector representatives.”

Both will serve for six years in the Monetary Board or until July 2026.

“The BSP welcomes their appointment and looks forward to their contribution in the fulfillment of the BSP mandates,” the central bank said.

Of the two, only Aquino is a new appointee since Tolentino is already part of the BSP body since June 2018 when he started serving the remaining term of Valentin Araneta who died February that year. Aquino, meanwhile, replaced Juan de Zuniga who retired from his post just this month.

Tolentino is an economist, having served the Asia Foundation and think tank International Rice Research Institute years prior to his initial BSP appointment in 2018. In 1993, he served as economic policy adviser to Manila-based lender, Asian Development Bank.

Aquino, on the other hand, most recently was a board member of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., the state agency tasked to protect bank deposits, and before that was chief of staff to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

She is an experienced banker, having served at various positions at Standard Chartered Bank in Manila, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Citibank NA Manila and Citicorp Investment Bank in Singapore.

At the Monetary Board, Aquino will sit with her former boss, Tolentino, and four other members led by BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno to face the grueling task of lifting the economy back on track with the threat of the pandemic lingering on the background.

They will do that by making critical decisions on bank interest rates and the amount of reserves, among others, that directly affect the level of liquidity available to consumers and investors driving their business and economic activity.

Since March, BSP has deployed several ammunitions to battle the pandemic’s economic impact. The Monetary Board cut benchmark rates by 175 basis points to new record-lows to encourage borrowers to obtain bank credit, while slashing mandated reserves by 200 bps to give banks more funds to lend out.

By BSP’s estimates, the central bank’s recent decisions have released an additional P1.3 trillion to the financial system.