Oscar Lopez: anti-corruption efforts not enough

To the patriarch of the Lopez family, the efforts of the Aquino government to combat corruption is not enough if this is not coupled with economic growth

MANILA, Philippines – To the patriarch of the Lopez family, the efforts of the Aquino government to combat corruption is not enough if this is not coupled with economic growth.

“Fighting corruption is good but it is not enough,” said Oscar Lopez, the chairman emeritus of the Lopez Group of Companies, at a recent gathering of Harvard University alumni in Manila.

“Nobody wants slower growth. We have to grow faster in order to provide jobs and income to our people,” he added.

He was referring to the pace of economic growth of the Philippines slowing down to 3.6% in 2011, the first year of the Aquino government, from 7.6% in 2010.

Officials of the Aquino government attributed this largely to the dampened demand for our exports, largely due to the global economic woes, especially in key markets in the west. However, another key factor in the overall slowdown is the underspending in infrastructure projects, which ironically were positioned to help stir the economy towards higher growth over the next years.

The Cabinet have said time and again that they cleaned the bureaucracy of loopholes as part of their long-term anti-corruption efforts, thus some projects were delayed.   

“[The Aquino government is] concentrating on anti-corruption, which is good. But we have to go beyond that,” Lopez told Rappler. “I hope we can get the economy going much faster in the years to come.”

This 2012, the government expects to grow the economy by around 5%.

Going by the 1st quarter budget deficit report, however, national spending has yet to catch up with promised acceleration. Up to 10 projects under the Public-Private Partnership are lined up for the year but the bidding process for the first infrastructure project has yet to be rolled out.

Infrastructure projects are capital intensive projects that provide opportunities for jobs and has a ripple effect on other industries, thus stimulating the entire economy leading to growth.

The Lopez Group is a key player in the local power and media industries, which are directly and indirectly affected by the pace of growth of the general economy. – Rappler.com

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