Noy to Asean businessmen: Invest in Phl
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With reforms previously deemed impossible now in place, President Aquino is calling on top business executives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to invest with their hearts in the Philippines and be the country’s partners in building better lives for its people and for the region.

Aquino made the appeal during the courtesy call yesterday of members of the ASEAN Business Club.

He said the reforms have even transformed some of the country’s problems into opportunities that investors should explore.

“When we started out, we really felt that there were so many problems that made me remember one of my father’s favorite songs, which was ‘The Impossible Dream.’ Everything that had to be done seemed to be so impossible. That was when we started,” he said.

“Today, when we are confronted with problems, we tend to see the opportunities that those problems present before us,” he added.

“Together, we Filipinos are spurring a virtuous cycle of empowerment and growth: Whereas more people are empowered to take hold of opportunities opening up in society, the engines of growth then shift constantly towards higher and higher gears,” he said.

“This is the context in which your visit occurs: A government fully committed to service, a revitalized economy, and a people with renewed optimism and desire to take part in nation-building now and in the future – towards creating opportunities for all,” Aquino said.

He told the businessmen to make the most of their time in the country, whether as delegates to the World Economic Forum or in meetings among themselves.

“This is the time to expand your connections and forge stronger relationships with your Filipino counterparts,” he said.

He said the success story of the Philippines is proof that “we can reach greater heights” through cooperation and dedication to work.

“May I invite you then to consider joining us – working with us even more – in harnessing the opportunities and potentials in our country today,” he said.

He maintained that with the Philippines on an economic upswing and with the integration of ASEAN on the horizon, “we are poised on the edge of even more meaningful progress – progress that we can realize today, in this visit, and in what I trust will be many more visits to come.”

 

More interactions

He also told the ASEAN businessmen that greater interaction among executives, businesses and government people is important in an “increasingly globalized milieu.”

“I believe we can all agree that our operations function more smoothly when we are given the chance to interact and work together – to exchange best practices, and even coordinate efforts – towards achieving inclusive and sustainable prosperity and progress,” he said.

He stressed that as captains of industry, businessmen should also be motivated by the need to improve the condition of employees, their consumer base and even communities where they operate.

“After all, you would not have reached such success today without understanding the truth that your business growth has always relied, and still relies, on the millions of people that you interact with,” Aquino said.

He stressed that his administration is always quick to remind those praising the Philippines that the country’s success was a collective achievement, built on the shoulders of a people determined to undertake the difficult task of reform together.

He said this began in 2010 when Filipinos stood up against corruption and impunity by voting him into office and giving him the mandate to initiate reforms.

“Every single step government has taken has been for the welfare of the Filipino people,” Aquino said.

Aquino also said his administration’s commitment to good governance had already borne fruit, citing as examples the Philippines’ record of consistently bucking the global trend, with economic growth remaining high and even surpassing targets.

He explained this was partly due to the country’s being inured to external volatility and subdued global demand since the Philippines is neither resource-dependent nor export-oriented.

Thus, the information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector continues to be a strong driver of growth.

Strong domestic demand is another potential that investors see in the Philippines – on top of his administration’s commitment to good governance, strong macroeconomic fundamentals and the credit-rating upgrades, he said.

“No longer are we the sick man in Asia; we are now Asia’s bright spot – a viable destination for investments and tourists,” he said.

Aquino said Filipinos are experiencing the benefits of good governance in their lives and, in turn, are supporting the government in pursuing further reforms.

“It is likewise because of the Filipino people’s solid backing that we were able to pass politically complex legislation that had languished in Congress for far too long. It is because of them that a just and lasting peace in the southernmost part of our country is finally within our grasp – fostering greater stability across the entire archipelago,” Aquino said, referring to the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

 

Senators’ appeal

Senators, meanwhile, urged the administration to speed up efforts to make the country more competitive in terms of economy and infrastructure in the region and the rest of the world, as the country hosts WEF.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, along with Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Loren Legarda and Grace Poe, all agree that the event is an opportunity to showcase the Philippines’ economic achievement.

While the government highlights the country’s economic gains, Drilon said the government should not lose sight of the fact that much more needs to be done for the Philippines to attain inclusive growth.

“We need to create more jobs for our people and ease poverty,” Drilon said.

He cited the country’s impressive economic performance, underpinned by its investment grade status, improved rankings in global competitiveness surveys and the overwhelming confidence of the international community in the economy.

He noted that the economic figures could have been higher had it not been for natural calamities like Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Angara said the Philippines’ hosting of the WEF proves that the country “is ready to engage with the rest of the world in the economic sphere.”

Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, said “there are several good business opportunities in various areas that the rest of the world didn’t know existed.”

“In order to be more competitive we should look at our investment and tax laws to measure how we stack up against other nations in the region and we should likewise make sure our infrastructure and our institutions are up to par and world class,” he explained.  – Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez

ANGARA AQUINO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS COUNTRY DRILON ECONOMIC PEOPLE PHILIPPINES
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