May 26, 2006 · Posted in: In the News
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she remains “full of hope,” that the country will be able to move forward and catch up with the economies of the First World, and is thus worthy of investments in the financial markets.
“I come here today bullish on our prospects as a nation,” Mrs. Arroyo told the Financial Markets Association World Congress at the Philippine International Convention Center this morning.
The President talked about the creation of five million jobs in the last five years, the easing of inflation, the increase in exports, and a budget surplus that she said is the highest in nine years.
At the same time, Mrs. Arroyo said, such hope is “tempered by realism.” She said she recognized that widespread hunger and corruption, if unchecked, will hold back the country’s progress.
“I assure you I’m not a Pollyanna, I’m a realist. I know that we still suffer from huge gaps in our social inequities, we can’t attain the rank of First World nation when many Filipinos live in hunger and progress is held back by corruption and lack of investments in world class infrastructure.”
Thus, said the president, she will proceed with her agenda, of “raising revenue, running a tight fiscal ship, investing in key social infrastructure like a good education, English skills, proper health care, and better roads, bridges and ports and airports.”
She also said she will continue “to be a proud and ardent saleswoman for our country.”
“I’ve invested a lot of my time and effort to engage the Philippines in global affairs — and that’s why I’m here before you today — and to help modernize our nation from bilateral to multilateral relations with nations to direct promotion in behalf of our nation and business,” Mrs. Arroyo said.
The full text of the President’s speech:
Thank you very much, Secretary Teves.
Officials of ACI International and ACI Philippines, other officials of the Philippine government, participants to this very important World Congress, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to the Philippines.
We are honored to host this Congress of World Financial Market practitioners. You are very important to the growth and the future of our nation.
I come here today bullish on our prospects as a nation. We’ve created over five million jobs in the last five years, inflation is easing, exports are up– they had a growth of 26 percent last March– and our budget surplus in April was the highest in nine years.
The world has taken notice of our growing reputation in the Call Center and BPO Space. We take pride in our high-tech manufacturing which leads our export growth. We’re enjoying a boom in our tourism and we welcome you to the Philippines as part of those tourists. And prime sites like Clark and Subic are being developed.
For the first time in a generation, we’re collecting the revenue we need to make investments and infrastructure, health care, education and job creation. Our fiscal discipline is paying off with better credit outlook — which I hope you’ve noted — which saves us billions of pesos a year that can be better spent in investing in our people and our economy.
My government has exerted various efforts, vigorous efforts to balance the budget, keep the overall security situation safe from terrorists, push growth and pursue political renewal.
Indeed, as Mr. Hilado says: “In the world of the financial markets, all of these variables come into play. And there is an interplay between financial variables, economic variables, security variables, political variables.” For instance, all of these come together in the money laundering issue.
The enforcement of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in the Philippines is moving forward and a first conviction has been gained on the back of effective prosecution by the government even as the case may be appealed. It stands as clear proof of our determination to clean up the potential money trails of crime syndicates and terrorists. The enforcement of this law is part and parcel of our fight against organized crime and corruption and of our role as a stronger player in regional and global security, and of course, also in financial security.
I’ve invested a lot of my time and effort to engage the Philippines in global affairs — and that’s why I’m here before you today — and to help modernize our nation from bilateral to multilateral relations with nations to direct promotion in behalf of our nation and business. I am and will continue to be a proud and ardent saleswoman for our country.
But you the financial markets, you the financial market players study the different countries in which you can possibly invest. And I assure you I’m not a Pollyanna, I’m a realist. I know that we still suffer from huge gaps in our social inequities, but we can’t attain the rank of First World nation when many Filipinos live in hunger and progress is held back by corruption and lack of investments in world class infrastructure.
That is why my agenda of moving forward is built on raising revenue, running a tight fiscal ship, investing in key social infrastructure like a good education, English skills, proper health care, and better roads, bridges and ports and airports. And you know even better than me how the oil crisis looms in the whole world and in the financial markets.
And so in the Philippines, our nation gathers around the need to come together and search for new alternatives and develop existing ones. We are pushing constructive solutions to beef up our sources of fuel such as renewable energy, indigenous energy and vigorous oil and gas exploration. For instance, on renewable energy, we’re pushing the planting of Jatropha trees and even the smallest of landowners can participate. On indigenous energy, my Energy Secretary reported to me yesterday that the Malampaya Natural Gas Consortium and First Gas Corporation have agreed to settle issues between them which have remained outstanding for the past four years. With this agreement we can look forward to an improved and stable operating environment for the production of indigenous natural gas.
The other day I had a meeting with our exporters and we discussed the need for competitive infrastructure. A lot of infrastructure is under construction in what we call our urban corridor from Clark-Subic in the north through Metro Manila to Calabarzon and Batangas port in the south. But we must have investments in power. Soon, we will launch the wholesale electricity spot market and I have noticed that it is attracting major investors to our electric power sector.
And so I come before you today, ever conscious of your theme of “Meeting the Challenge.” It reminds me of what Tom Friedman says: “the world is flat; we must compete.” And the Philippines recognizes the need to compete– and we are working to make ourselves competitive, more competitive and more worthy of the financial markets.
And so today, full of hope, tempered by realism, we come to welcome you. And we welcome you to a nation that we hope indeed is worth your attention and that’s why you have come here for your World Congress and even more your investments in the financial markets.
Once again, welcome to the Philippines!
Mabuhay! Thank You.