Business leaders seek broader infrastructure program

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Business leaders have urged the government to create a broader infrastructure plan to ensure an investment-led economic growth amid the pandemic.

In a forum, International Container Terminal Services Inc. EVP Christian Gonzalez said to attract foreign investments in manufacturing, there is a need to have a privatization and infrastructure program driven by a broader strategy.

“Right now, infrastructure privatization is done piecemeal in isolation… Where is the masterplan of creating industrial zones in areas that are already connected to the global marketplace? Where is the masterplan to create infrastructure in places that will later become sites for industrial and commercial areas that will be meant to be connected to the global marketplace,” he said.

“Unless we start thinking based on a broader infrastructure plan and move out of this isolated system of privatization and building infrastructure, frankly, we will not accelerate foreign investment nor manufacturing in the way we all want,” he said.

Ayala Corp. president Cezar Consing said there is a need to look at the examples of neighboring countries on how to ensure a sustainable long-term economic growth.

“We need some of that because unless you have a real significant transfer of resource allocation, we will never rebuild our manufacturing sector. We are the poorest BBB+ country in the world. Yet look at consumer goods, you can find everything here. Clearly there is misbalance,” he said.

PLDT Inc. president Alfredo Panlilio also emphasized the need to attract more investments from the manufacturing industry.

“Clearly, (there’s a) lack of manufacturing companies that invest in the country. If you talk about manufacturing, it’s an investment that’s long term for the country,” he said.

Similarly, Stratbase president Dindo Manhit stressed the importance of government creating an investment environment for jobs to be created.

“Imagine if we give enough incentives to the manufacturing sector. Imagine if we really generate more tourism. Imagine if we continue to play a role and strengthen the business process outsourcing or the KPO, knowledge process outsourcing, as one of our exports – imagine 109 million Filipinos, who are productive, working, earning towards that end. That’s a big consumer base. If this group of people will spend because there’s enough livelihood, not much indebtedness, then you can see a more sustained growth. Consumption economy, which is what drives us, can only be sustained, I believe, from an investment-led growth trajectory, not jobless growth,” he said.

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