PNoy Encourages Investors to Expand Businesses in the Philippines

President Benigno Aquino III urged Tuesday potential investors to consider expanding their respective businesses in the Philippines since the country is now in a better position to offer more and readily meet their requirements in order for their investments to prosper.

In his speech during the opening of the Philippine Investment Forum 2013 at the Peninsula Manila in Makati City, Aquino said that potential investors could partner with the government in investing in three priority sectors.

These include agriculture, which is the source of income for some 12.1-million Filipinos; tourism, which expects some 56-million visitors by 2016; and infrastructure, which will support agriculture and tourism through the development of road networks, ports, and airports that will ensure the safety and efficient passage of tourists and goods all over the country.

“At the end of the day, we are inviting you to come to the Philippines whether in these three sectors, or in others, because we know that, here, hard work, innovation, and creativity are rewarded with success,” the President said.

“This is not an empty promise — you will have the Filipino people and our administration as committed partners,” he added.

Aquino underscored the creativity, dedication, and loyalty of Filipino labor, saying these are the characteristics that firms want in their work force.

“Given the opportunity, they (Filipino workers) will do the same for you, whatever industry you may be involved in,” the President said.

“The investments that you will bring into our country will redound to tens of thousands of jobs for our countrymen—men and women who will be able to put food on their tables, send their children to school, and meet the needs and wants of their families,” he said.

“Together, we will be empowering them: giving them greater power to contribute to economic growth and opportunities to uplift their lives and even the lives of their fellow Filipinos. All together, we will be building the success of the industry, the Philippines and the Filipino people,” he added.

The President noted that since he assumed office in 2010, he had spent the last two years and eight months on weeding out graft and corruption in order to provide a level playing field for all as well as to “ensure that integrity, transparency, and accountability characterize our actions.”

“Over the past years, we have been doing everything we can to level the playing field—from reforming the judiciary, to streamlining the process of setting up business in the Philippines, to following the proper bidding and procurement processes. We are also investing heavily in our countrymen—empowering them to take stock of their lives and to realize their potential,” Aquino said.

The Philippine Investment Forum 2013 brings together policymakers, business leaders, economists and key overseas investors in painting an overview of the Philippine economy including analysis into all its key sectors.

Aquino Vows to Improve Foreign Investments in the Philippines

By Kathleen Yu

President Noynoy Aquino

President Noynoy Aquino III

In his first state of the nation address (SONA) on July 26, 2010,  newly elected president Benigno Aquino III vowed to boost foreign investments in the country, fight corruption within the government sector and create job opportunities for the local workforce. Aquino promised to “boost collection and fight corruption in the tax and customs bureaus”  and to provide for the education, housing, and health care needs of working class Filipinos.

He vowed to improve PhilHealth coverage for government and private employees, as well as to “build more classrooms” and “fund service contracts under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE).” Aquino also proposed conditional cash transfers to assist parents in educating their children, and promised to improve the Philippine educational system by expanding the basic education cycle from seven years to the global standard of twelve years.

To accomplish this, he proposed the establishment of public-private partnerships between the government and the business sector. He acknowledged the need to attract foreign investors to the country, and promised to implement stable economic policies that would not only “level the playing field” for potential investors, but also make the Philippines a more attractive investment destination in Southeast Asia. This would, in turn, reduce unemployment and create job opportunities for the local workforce.

According to statistics from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines registered only $1.5 billion in direct foreign investments in the year 2008, compared to Thailand’s $9.8 billion and Indonesia’s $7.9 billion. Economic growth in the Philippines averaged 3.7% in the last twenty years, as opposed to 4.7% in Thailand and 6% for Malaysia. During his speech, Aquino vowed to consider “each and every item of the budget” and promised to improve direct foreign investments in the country. Budget secretary Florencio Abad also proposed the implementation of government austerity measures, and promised “dramatic” improvements in both the education and health sectors.

In his speech, Aquino promised to improve business registration procedures in the Philippines, to encourage foreign and local investors to set up operations in the country. Under the leadership of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary Gregory Domingo, the 4-8 hour process of registering a business name would now be cut down to just 15 minutes. The 36 documents required for the procedure would be cut down to 6, and the 8 page application form would be shortened to just one page. This would make it easier for foreign and local investors to set up business operations in the Philippines.

According to BPO Consultant Gregory Kittelson of Manila consulting firm Kittelson & Carpo Consulting, “Many foreign investors are hopeful that Aquino will provide an enabling and transparent business environment that will encourage growth and promote fair competition among foreign and local companies. The keyword here is confidence. Once investors are confident that Aquino will come through with his promises and put the right processed in place, we can expect a surge in long term investments.”

Kittelson added, “The general mindset of foreign investors was to wait and see if all went well during and after the recent elections.  Once Aquino was sworn in and the country appeared to demonstrate continuous stability, foreign investors regained confidence and carried out their investment plans for the Philippines.”

Let’s hope that PNoy (as President Aquino is affectionately known to the masses) is true to his word.

World Bank sees RP slipping into recession

MANILA, Philippines – The World Bank has warned that the Philippines would slip into recession this year, saying government efforts to stimulate the economy would not be enough to revitalize foreign investments as the global turmoil continues to push businesses to the sidelines.

The foreign lender has projected that the Philippines would post a 0.5-percent contraction in its gross domestic product this year and thus join its neighboring countries that earlier reported a contraction of their economies.

Read more…