WHO WILL REPLACE CAMACHO?

MANILA, November 24, 2003  (STAR) By Des Ferriols - The initial reaction of the market to the resignation of Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho will have spill-over effects this week as the market speculates who will replace Camacho.

The market is expected to eventually lump Camacho’s resignation together with the rest of political noise building up towards the elections.

Over the weekend, various names have also emerged as possible candidates for Camacho’s position although Camacho himself has already made a recommendation that the President has not acted upon yet.

Market players said the Arroyo administration’s decision on Camacho’s replacement was critical, even if there were only a few months before the term ends anyway.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) agreed that there might be residual pessimism this week but BSP Governor Rafael Buenaventura said much of the initial reaction has already been spent last Friday.

"Much of it has already been factored in by the market last week," Buenaventura said. "If there will be more weakness this week, it will probably be very slight."

Camacho himself has already recommended the appointment of Finance Undersecretary Juanita Amatong to serve the remainder of the Arroyo administration.

Amatong is a career bureaucrat in government budget and finance. She currently oversees the international finance group of the Department of Finance and is well-known in the international community.

Over the weekend, the name of veteran banker Peter Favila has been added to the list of possible replacements.

Earlier, the possible successor to Camacho included Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas Jr. and even Rep. Julio Ledesma who was rumored to have the backing of House Speaker Jose de Venecia.

President Arroyo, on the other hand, is expected to make the appointment this week right before Camacho’s resignation comes into effect on the 30th of the month.

"Its critical that they appoint someone who can convince the market that there will be continuity and consistency in policy," said one trader. "It shouldn’t appear that there is an interruption in the reforms or resolve."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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