How to sustain PH growth? Hard reforms needed
MANILA, Philippines – It's not just about perception.
If the Philippines wants to sustain its stellar growth, it must implement "hard" reforms that will encourage the continuous flow of investments into the country, speakers at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Makati City said Thursday, May 22. (WATCH the session here)
Businessman Manuel Pangilinan said the Aquino government has greatly improved the country's reputation with its good governance agenda, but it shouldn't stop there.
"The soft part of development is important… governance and perception of the Philippines is improving. But the hard parts must also be addressed. It can't be all about perception."
Pangilinan cited, for example, constraints in infrastructure and power – two vital things needed to improve the ease and lower the cost of doing business in the country.
He added in some sectors, like power, rules have yet to be simplified. "We bought a 600-megawatt power plant in Singapore, it took us about 5 months to do it. We wanted to build a 600-MW plant in Subic… it would take 4 years."
Pangilinan, chair of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, was among the panel of the session titled, "Philippines: The Next Asian Miracle." The session focused on the growth story of the Philippines, which is hosting for the first time the WEF on East Asia, attended by over 600 political and business heavyweights from the region.
Kevin Lu, fellow of INSEAD, Singapore, echoed Pangilinan's view. "Infrastructure is so important, it's a driver of other economic drivers. If you have good infrastructure, your industries become more competitive."
Government officials sitting in the session said that while government has many more reforms to undertake, it has nevertheless gained headway in restoring order in its house.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said there's renewed "faith" in the country's leadership, thanks to President Aquino's anti-corruption drive.
The government has been filing cases against tax evaders and smugglers, and it ordered a revamp at the Customs bureau to minimize pay-offs. It is also pursuing charges against several officials and individuals over the P10-billion pork barrel scandal.
National Competitiveness Council co-chair Guillermo "Bill" Luz, for his part, said rules for setting up businesses in the country were simplified, resulting in a jump in the country's competitiveness ranking worldwide.
The key now is sustaining these reforms, said Jimenez. "When you talk about sustainability of growth, what you must sustain are the reforms." – Rappler.com
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