MANILA, Philippines ? President Benigno Aquino III expressed optimism Thursday that the Philippine economy would take off in 2011 and that Filipinos would feel substantial benefits from the expected improvement in the country?s fiscal situation.
Speaking to reporters after leading the Rizal Day ceremonies at the Luneta, Aquino said the country?s citizens could already feel the gains of his administration in managing the economy.
?We?re not just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In certain sectors, we can already feel the light, the warmth of the new beginning,? the President said in an interview near the Rizal monument.
Aquino was referring to the government?s budget surplus of P500 million in November when a deficit of P6 billion was expected at that time.
?And we didn?t achieve that by tightening our belts and those that needed funds were no longer funded so we can window dress. All that needed funding were funded but still we had a surplus,? Aquino said.
?If we are prudent in spending money, all the needs of the countrymen will be met as soon as possible. Somehow, I believe that is now being felt,? he added.
Government savings, he indicated, would be used to fund social services such as the need for nurses in rural health units.
The President also adverted to an improved employment situation, pointing out that the business process outsourcing firm Convergys now occupied two more floors at its facility in the San Lazaro area due to increased jobs.
?They have a total of eight [floors] in a period of a month or so. That, I think, is an anecdotal reference to what we should be expecting. The unemployment rate [and] the underemployment rate have all been improving,? Aquino said.
?So we?re hoping that the economy really, really moves; that the disturbances in the... world economy will be mitigated and will have little effects on us,? he added.
Aquino made the remarks following a Social Weather Station survey showed that 93 percent of Filipinos are facing 2011 with a positive outlook.
?That hope has basis. And if we would all help each other, the development would even be faster,? he said. ?Sometimes, I think the good news that we have gets unnoticed. But sooner or later that will be felt by our countrymen.?
Aquino said the people felt how quickly the administration acted to mitigate the effects of recent calamities.
?Pagasa said we?d have good weather today. They are again right,? the President said.
He said the government would focus its spending on social services such as basic education and public health.
Pump priming the economy with infrastructure will mostly be undertaken through public-private partnerships.
The President said the Department of Education was already looking at building 13,000 classrooms and hiring thousands of teachers.
He added that the Department of Health would deploy nurses in the countryside to address as well the need for midwives.
?When we started, we were fixated on the fact that six years would not be enough to do everything that we have to do. But we want people to feel the change and that there be so much momentum that the next administration will have to continue it,? Aquino said.
In his New Year message, Aquino expressed hope that development would come at a faster pace next year.
He also asked the people to unite so that Filipinos can achieve their dreams.
?In the last elections, most Filipinos chose the straight path. Many more joined us after the elections. More from in and outside the country renewed their trust,? the President said. ?That?s why in the coming year, we expect that we would move faster forward.?