BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor and incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno is keeping his “growth-focused” mindset as he is set to transfer from the central bank to the Department of Finance (DOF) in the coming weeks.
In a television interview last Monday, Diokno said his main focus in his upcoming leadership at the DOF is keeping the country’s growth rate to its current level.
“Traditionally, the role of the Minister of Finance is to raise revenues to finance government priorities and to manage that. But I think at this juncture in our history, I think the Department of Finance will focus on sustaining growth, making it broad-based, making it stronger,” Diokno said.
This echoes Diokno sentiment three years ago when he was appointed BSP governor after Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. passed away two years into his term as central bank chief.
In 2019, Diokno—dubbed as “pro-growth governor” by some analysts and economists—said he is aiming for a more inclusive growth narrative for the country as BSP governor.
“Growth will actually solve a lot of our problems,” Diokno said on Monday’s interview. “Number one, we have to continue our objective of reducing poverty in this country. We feel that if we grow at around 6 percent on a consistent basis, the poverty in the country will be down to single digit by the end of the Marcos regime.”
“Also by pursuing growth we will solve our revenue problem and that will solve our deficit problem. That will also help achieve our goals to be an upper middle income country in a few years. And of course—this has always been our objective—our road to A,” Diokno added.
The governor also said he intends to focus on streamlining tax administration before deciding on whether the country needs new taxes as part of its fiscal consolidation program.
“The tax system has recently been reformed. There are many changes that were done by the present administration. There is room for better tax collection,” Diokno said. He added that making the system “taxpayer-friendly” through technology and digitization processes and other reforms could help make sure enough revenues are collected.
“Although I said that this [current system] is a better tax system than the previous one, it is not perfect. It could be improved upon,” Diokno said. “But to me, the focus should really be first, let us implement the new tax system. And then find out if there is a need for further reform.”