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Business

JAZA upbeat on Philippines growth prospects

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
JAZA upbeat on Philippines growth prospects
Jaime Augusto Zobel
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala is upbeat on the Philippine economy’s growth this year.

Zobel said expectations within the Ayala group, the Philippines’ oldest conglomerate, is that the country will once again maintain its position as one of the region’s fastest growing economies this year.

“Prospects for our country, I’ve always been an optimist. I’m a great believer in the glass being half full always. And for 2024, the Ayala Group is optimistic that inflation will continue to come down, then capitalize on return of much robust consumer spending, a major driver of our economy in our country, and as well as higher investments for both the public and private sector as we move through the year,” he said during an event organized by SGV & Co.

The country currently has all the ingredients to take it to the next level, he also said.

“I think it just requires an effective catalyst to start this combustion of exponential and equitable growth. It’s indeed an ambitious goal.”

Zobel, however, said it is crucial that the country’s economy expands in a rapid manner.

“I’ve always argued, within the group and with government officials, that it’s not just good to grow, but we have to grow at a pace of rising population within the demographic dividend. And it’s not just about growing at x percent. It’s about surpassing the growth,” he said.

In order for the country to be globally competitive and see progress, Zobel urged both government and the private sector to work hand in hand to resolve the persistent challenges that continue to hamper development.

“In our view, the Philippines will need massive investments in modern infrastructure, as well as investments in our people’s education and we’ll be able to propel the company forward,” he said.

On the infrastructure side, Zobel said the country has extensive experience and success in applying public-private-partnerships in this area of the economy.

“It’s an exciting time. I’m a great believer that if you can bring private capital and its accountability to some of the opportunities in the public sector has, then they have a capacity that could be a very powerful one,” he said.

He assured stakeholders that the Ayala Group would continue to embark on initiatives and investments that will not only spur exponential growth but also ensure that such growth is inclusive, equitable and sustainable.

The Ayala Group of Companies has principal business interests in real estate and hotels, financial services and insurance, telecommunications, water, industrial technologies, power and automotive, outsourcing and others.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to 5.6 percent in 2023 from 7.6 percent in 2022 due to the impact of the aggressive rate hikes delivered by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to tame inflation and stabilize the peso.

This was lower than the six to seven percent target penned by economic managers.

For this year, the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee sees the economy growing between 6.5 and 7.5 percent.

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JAIME AUGUSTO ZOBEL

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