During his leadership of the central bank over four presidential terms, excessively interventionist measures gave way to emphasis on indirect instruments, so local banks were able to develop into true banking institutions. The banks were free to choose the composition of their portfolios and a more market-oriented determination of interest rates developed. Dr Lizano faced strong opposition, especially from pressure groups, whose financing by the central bank he withdrew.

Under his direction, the central bank addressed not only these topics, but other structural changes the country needed to undertake. In this sense, Dr Lizano propelled the decisions to reduce tariff protection and open up the economy under the then-new export promotion model, which the country implemented in the mid-1980s.

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During the past few years, under the advice of Dr Lizano, the country has substituted the old approach of controlling its financial system with a modern one of prudential supervision pursuant to the international standards promoted by the Basilea Conventions.

Under his mandate at the central bank, exporters were gradually allowed to have at their disposal a larger portion of their foreign currency. In the latter part of the 1990s, Dr Lizano and the Treasury were able to achieve an important agreement with international commercial banks that let the country renegotiate its external debt to adjust the amount of resources allocated to servicing the external debt to the ability of the country to make payments.

Although many individuals and different governments also contributed to these reforms, Dr Lizano is acknowledged for his role in promoting them and in negotiating the first structural adjustment programmes that complemented the processes to eliminate distortions, particularly the tariff relief that eliminated the ‘anti-exporting bias’ which was a result of economic policies that promoted import substitution.

Crucially, Dr Lizano also paved the way to allow free movement of capital flows. If the country wanted to attract short-term capital and FDI, it was essential for investors to be able to withdraw their funds at any time.