DEPARTMENT of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the agency substantially contributed in initiating reforms that will prepare the Philippines for the new economy and sustain its post-pandemic recovery.

This as he handed over leadership at DOF to his successor, former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno,.

Unveiling his priorities as the new Finance secretary, Diokno said that under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the DOF has set out out “three overarching goals that we hope to achieve by the end of his term: reduce the deficit-to-GDP ratio to three percent, achieve upper-middle-income status, and bring poverty incidence to single-digit” levels.

Diokno said achieving these priorities is possible by pursuing a strong broad-based growth for the next six years, and implementing a fair and efficient fiscal consolidation plan anchored on sustaining the country’s growth momentum.

Under his leadership, Diokno said the DOF will promote inclusive growth by adopting the government’s risk management and vaccination strategy in dealing with the pandemic; continuing to invest heavily in infrastructure, education and healthcare; and sustaining strong economic fundamentals by maintaining fiscal discipline and building on the current reform momentum.

“I know fully well that the road ahead is going to be difficult. But I also see a lot of opportunities for the Philippines to move forward and settle among our high-flying Asean peers. I will build on the work of my predecessor, Secretary Sonny, and move to even greater heights for the Filipino people we all serve,” Diokno said.

Dominguez said Diokno is the “best possible choice” to succeed him because the former BSP chief possesses “the skills, the insight and the dedication” to take on the demanding job of secretary of Finance.

“Ben, I am handing over to you not only the heavy responsibilities of this post but also the talented staff of the Department. They are equipped with the skills needed to help you face the challenges we now confront and will encounter in the future,” Dominguez said during a turn-over ceremony in Manila.

Referencing the title of former President Diosdado Macapagal’s book, “A Stone for the Edifice,” which means continuously building on the successes of one’s predecessor in the endless task of nation-building, Dominguez said he can proudly say that on his watch, the DOF has accomplished this by pursuing policy continuity and using the achievements of previous administrations to introduce much-needed economic reforms.

Dominguez said that over the past six years, the DOF ensured adequate funding support for President Duterte’s centerpiece infrastructure modernization program “Build, Build, Build” modernized the tax system through the enactment of the various components of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP); gained much headway in broadening the domestic capital markets; and received the highest credit ratings ever for the country through fiscal discipline.

All these reforms achieved during the Duterte presidency helped greatly in cushioning the shock of the pandemic on the Filipino people and the economy, and enabled the government to protect lives and secure financing for Covid-19 vaccines even before these were developed, Dominguez said.

“The challenge in the immediate future is for the economy to outgrow the added debt. With this, the Department of Finance prepared a fiscal consolidation and resource mobilization plan to help manage the debt, continue the reforms, and sustain the recovery. We trust that the succeeding team will find this input somewhat useful,” Dominguez said. (CSL, PR)