PH economy good but could be better, says Japan official

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Japanese Minister for Economic Affairs Akio Isomata (leftmost) with Mr. Jaime C. Del Rosario, Chairman and President of Jesus V. Del Rosario Foundation, Inc., and Mr. Tomoyuki Katano of the Japanese NGO ‘The Volunteers Group to Send Wheelchairs to Overseas Children” at the turnover ceremony at the office of Jesus V. Del Rosario (JVR) Foundation in Makati. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY—Despite the glowing economic numbers, the Philippines should push harder to improve its investment climate as it continues to lag behind neighboring Asian countries, a Japanese minister said here on Thursday.

In his assessment of the country’s economic standing in the region, Minister Akio Isomata of the Japanese Embassy in Manila’s economic section said the Philippines “cannot afford to be complacent” amid the outpouring of optimism over its standout growth rate of 6.6 percent in 2012.

“Yes, it’s lagging behind. You cannot afford to be complacent in your current place. Of course, the economy is very strong now. The achievement, performance is admirable in the last two years I think. No doubt about that,” Isomata told reporters.

He cited a congested logistics infrastructure, including roads and ports, expensive and unstable power supply, and the delayed release of tax refunds as major concerns of Japanese investors.

Leading economic partner

Japan has been a leading economic and development partner of the Philippines, with a number of Japanese locators operating around the country, and the largest source of official development assistance (ODA) with $593.3 million or P24 billion in aid disbursements (both loans and grants) in 2011, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This accounts for 40 percent of total ODA disbursements that year, the largest assistance ahead of the United States’ $541.3 million or P22 billion.

Japan is the Philippine’s top export market and leading trading partner, with around $13 billion or P528 billion in total bilateral trade last year and with around P22.35 billion in investments in the first half of 2012, according to figures of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Cooperation between the two countries is anchored on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership (JPEPA), which aims to liberalize and boost trade between the two countries, encourage investment through an improved business climate here, and advocate transparency in government procurement, among other things.

Outlining these current hurdles, Isomata said the implementation of ODA projects remained slow while the utilization and maintenance of aid-supported projects like major roads and ports remained low.

One example is the “underutilization” of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the Batangas and Subic Bay ports, projects that were supported by Japanese ODA.

He also cited the poor maintenance of ODA-funded projects, which Japan is aiming to help address through technical cooperation.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippine Toshinao Urabe said in an interview on Wednesday that once infrastructure had been completed, “people just try to run it down.”

Urabe said his government had offered to help the Philippines in planned repairs of Edsa by proposing the use of a roadwork method that causes minimal traffic disruption.

Congestion of such major roads and logistics hubs leads to economic loss, said Isomata.

Japan also called the Philippine government’s attention to the issue of congestion and other concerns through the JPEPA subcommittee on the improvement of the country’s business environment, which gathered officials from both sides in March and September last year.

The Japanese side is hoping for the timely release of value-added tax refunds to Japanese locators in economic zones and a stable and affordable power supply, with current rates known to be the most expensive in Southeast Asia.

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  • pugadlawin

    The reason why SKorea, China, Taiwan progressed was they require foreign investors to transfer technology and they have the drive to learn from these investors.
    Hence they were able to build more from the technology.

    Pinoys only want to be employed. So investors remain investors and employees remain employees for life…

  • http://twitter.com/JOSE__RIZAL JOSE RIZAL

    “He cited a congested logistics infrastructure, including roads and ports, expensive and unstable power supply, and the delayed release of tax refunds as major concerns of Japanese investors.”
    We, netizens, have been citing it since day one. I hope Noynoy would not dismiss it now that’s it’s coming from the Japanese…and not just any Japanese.
    Wake up! Grow up! And be mature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simoun.magaalahas.10 Simoun Magaalahas

    Hindi talaga aasenso ang mga Pilipino kung palaging na lang inaasahan natin sa ating bansa ay mga negosyanteng dayuhan, Limitadong kaalaman ng R&D at kakulangan sa pondo ng Gobyerno kaya umaasa na lang tayo sa ibang teknolohiya ng Dayuhan. HIndi pag supporta ng gobyerno sa mga pilipinong inventor dahil sa pansariling interest ng mga ilang namumuno sa gobyerno at panunuhol ng mga malalaking negosyanteng dayuhan.kahit anong pagsusumikap ni Juan kung hindi naman papansinin ng gobyerno at kababayan niya ang kanyang gawa ay hindi rin magbubunga..

  • PinoyDude

    The comments of the Japanese ambassador should be taken very seriously if the government wants to make improvements in our economy.

  • CyberPinoy

    Pnoy should dig deeper in this concerns, the “mstinong daan” he wanted to rally is hampered by this. He should investigate who is slowing down the business developments and act accordingly. Baka kasi kamaganak, kaibigan or kasama sa politika ang nagpapabagal sa pagunlad ng Pinas. I suspect these are the works of oligarchy families with ties to the business that will get affected if changes takes place. Pres Pnoy should show to the Filipino people that he can rained on the oligarchy families in the Philippines.

  • w33k3nd3r

    With a country such as theirs, they have every right to suggest that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dexter-Salas/532274815 Dexter Salas

    Being from a Japanese company these concerns are really very common among locators. Ford has already pulled out its production line last year because of these concerns while Isuzu threatening to follow suit. This so called economic progress is fueled by very industrious and resilient Filipinos here and abroad DESPITE the lack of satisfactory-enough leadership whose aims are still their selfish interests. That goes for both LP and the opposition. And for the closet communists? They can just go away and f**k themselves.

  • puropinoi

    Pnoy doesn’t know anything about economics and doesn’t care about hiring brilliant economist into his administration because he is more comfortable with his trusted barkadas running the govt for him…if someone wants to see an example of how the Aquinos handle economy, you don’t have to look farther…just look at Hacienda Luisita ! that’s the showcase of the Aquino economics !

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AYITA5V33GYZSLC3G37UCVNTKA Ben

    For unknown reason, the Pnoy administration is still holding back the development of the country. If they have the political will 8% and above is easy to attain but why would this government do that? They are not in a hurry, never mind those people in poverty, they have to remain mired in poverty so they will vote for me….yup politics has something to do with this restraint in our economic take off, they only care for their own pocket or reputation, never mind if Juan does not have a job, or earning pathetically or doesn`t eat three times a day…what matter is their reputation of clean hands, yup but behind the camera is red tape, bureaucratic web or maybe discussion to get tong pats or self-interests…

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