MANILA, Philippines — While there remains serious challenges ahead for the incoming administration, Sen. Sonny Angara is confident that the Philippines will be able to sustain its path toward recovery and emerge stronger.
Just like what happened in previous administrations, Angara said the key to bringing the country out of the economic slump is to build on the gains made by the outgoing administration and to come up with strong policies that will move the country forward in the coming years.
“The good news is that our economic policies don’t really change. In the past three administrations, difficult fiscal reforms were introduced to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of our people,” he said in his address before the Harvard OPM Club of the Philippines.
From the time when about one-third of the country’s budget was set aside to paying the interest of its debts, the senator noted that it is down to 10 to 15 percent and the interest rates have gone down to their lowest levels.
“Those fiscal reforms set the basis for the investments that the government had to make over the last two decades – investments in education, health and infrastructure. I have seen how things have improved,” he said.
For instance, in the field of education, Angara noted how the current administration was able to pass the law guaranteeing free education to students enrolled in state universities and colleges even though this would cost government a lot because it was a necessary investment.
He emphasized that tough decisions, while highly unpopular, had to be made and results can be seen clearly in the way the economy has continued to grow over the past three administrations.
“During the time of PGMA (former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), we had four to five-percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth, then it was six to seven percent during the time of PNoy (former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III) that was sustained over six years. Then you have President Duterte almost hitting eight percent, pre-pandemic,” Angara said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty, there’s a lot of gloom and doom. There are definitely clouds on the horizon, but if we have a skillful pilot who can steer us on course, we’ll be good. The Philippines is going to be OK and there’s a chance that we might even be better,” he added.
In the next six years and beyond, the senator said there is a window of potential for the country that must be tapped with some urgency because the population will start to age within the next two decades.
He added that investments in education and health become even more crucial in order to help in the development of the people.