Manila, May 26 (EFE).- Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr Thursday announced Benjamin Diokno, the incumbent central bank governor, as the next finance minister ahead of the new government taking office next month.
Diokno will steer the country’s economy amid a fiscal crisis from the pandemic that caused unprecedented global economic stress.
“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.
Diokno, 74, served in outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet as the budget secretary.
In 2019, Duterte appointed him as the Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines with a term until 2023.
The economist with a long career serving successive governments in various capacities since 1986 faces a tough challenge of massive debt from the current government’s pandemic borrowing.
“Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines was poised to transition into an upper-middle-income economy, thanks largely to sound economic policies put in place over decades by multiple administrations,” Diokno said.
“As the country transitions to the next administration, it is my view that continuity of sound macro and fiscal policies is important to achieve the stronger post-Covid Philippine economy that we all aim for.”
At a press conference for a small group of journalists, Marcos Jr said Thursday that the “distribution of wealth has not been equitable” in the country. But he did not specify any measures to curb it.
The Philippines suffers from high rates of economic inequality, higher than those of its neighboring countries, the World Bank data shows.
Marcos Jr. has promised to continue investing in large infrastructure projects even as he has not detailed his economic and fiscal plans.
Before the elections on May 9, the Department of Internal Revenue indicated that the Marcos family owes some 203 billion Philippine pesos ($3.8 billion) in unpaid estate taxes.
The family has denied it.
The president-elect’s family has been accused of benefiting from the $10 billion that Ferdinand Marcos Sr. allegedly plundered during his years in power from 1965 to 1986. EFE