Aquino seen off to a good start, but urged to do more
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino is set to make his third State of the Nation Address Monday with the private sector quite optimistic that the economy will continue to grow this year despite the gloom in the global economy due to crises in the United States and Europe.
And after two years in office, a number of chief executive officers and business leaders have given him high marks for his campaign versus corruption that has long been entrenched in politics and in the economy.
According to Jose Yulo Jr., president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands, the oldest business chamber in the Philippines, Aquino deserves a perfect score for his efforts to instill honesty in government.
“Cleansing the corrupted judiciary branch by impeaching the Chief Justice is a major start but there is a need for constant follow through [for efforts] to be truly effective,” said Yulo.
“The economy has responded with a high gross domestic product growth of over 6 percent in the first quarter; and we are now being talked about as an area for investments and economic activity. But improper infrastructure will block the potential for progress,” Yulo added.
Rex C. Drilon II, president of the Institute of Corporate Directors, also gives President Aquino a high mark of eight out of a possible 10.
Drilon said that it is correct for Aquino to focus his attention on ridding the government of corruption.
“There is correct focus on corruption and poverty and the value of good governance,” he added.
Judith V. Lopez, chairperson and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co., a member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, agrees that the current administration is doing well so far.
“This is supported by the impressive first-quarter growth; the country’s upgraded credit rating coupled with the increased appetite for foreign portfolio investments; and significant increase in foreign reserves resulting in a stronger peso performance. We also see continued investments in tourism and the business process outsourcing industry and a boost in the real estate market to address demand for office space and world-class accommodations,” said Lopez.
“He has built a solid foundation for boosting the economy. He should also be credited for his anticorruption campaign, which encourages transparency and fair dealing in government transactions,” Lopez added.
Evelyn Singson, president of Philippine Hoteliers Inc., meanwhile, gave Aquino a “high pass” because of improvements in the economy and increased business confidence.
But all of them say that much more needs to be done for the Philippines to achieve its full potential.
Lopez said President Aquino can improve by continuing support for small and medium-scale enterprises and the tourism sector, and pushing for more public-private partnership projects to be bid out this year.
“Private sector investments are the key to the success of the PPP. I hope this picks up its pace,” Lopez said.
Drilon, meanwhile, recommended that Aquino get rid of the “nonperformers” and “lightweights” in government who are not really contributing to the administration’s efforts to achieve sustained economic growth.
“[There is also a need] to address the potential economic landmines in legislation and articulate his road map for the country in simpler terms that people can relate to,” said Drilon.
Yulo also spoke of the need to better articulate the campaign against corruption.
“The country’s CEO must have a vision and a goal of the future that is clearly understood and embraced by the citizens. P-Noy (Aquino) has made anticorruption as his vision/goal; sadly this is not articulated well enough for the people to understand that from a corruption-free honest and efficient government, progress will naturally flow. The people must be made to understand this and to support it as they go about their daily lives,” said Yulo.
Singson, meanwhile, urged the government to increase spending.
“Perhaps the gains in the economy have not yet trickled down to noticeably alleviate poverty. But if we accelerate spending, the gains will begin to make a difference in the lives of many,” she said.