Robredo urges Asean business leaders: Include poor in progress
Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday urged international leaders and businessmen to include the poor in their efforts to bolster the economic progress of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries.
This as the Vice President noted that while the Asean is now moving towards becoming a big economic bloc, most countries in Southeast Asia is still home to many of the poor in the world.
Speaking before international delegates and businessmen, Robredo then hit “politically and economically powerful” public officials for creating institutions in the government that were “extractive, rather than inclusive, so that they could remain in power.”
“(T)he problem is that prosperity has not trickled down. While the number of Asian billionaires is growing, Asean is still home to many of the world’s poor,” Robredo said a speech at a business forum dubbed the “Prosperity for All” Summit held in the grand ballroom of City of Dreams Manila.
Robredo stressed the importance of addressing poverty, which she said had become her advocacy throughout her career, first before coming up with ways to achieve economic growth.
But she nevertheless lauded the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean BAC) for putting the welfare of the micro- to small- to medium-scale entrepreneurs at the center of the agenda of the summit.
“There is only good that can come out of deepening the conversation on how to create prosperity for all, not just a select few,” she said.
The meeting is a side session at the 30th Asean Summit, which started on Wednesday. It was organized by the Asean BAC chaired by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.
But the Vice President said she believes that “unless progress reaches the farthest, poorest barangays (villages), our job is not yet done.”
As the business leaders craft inclusive business models, Robredo said that still, the “final scorecard is what happens to the last, the least, and the lost.”
She then said that her office has been spending few days in a week with poverty-stricken communities in the country because “we are passionate about inclusive growth because to us, the poor should be more than just statistics.”
The Office of the Vice President has been facilitating an anti-poverty program called “Angat Buhay,” linking public and private entities to poor communities to provide support for the latter.
Also present in the summit were Pampanga Representative and former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator Bam Aquino, Robredo’s campaign manager in the elections last May, and other economic leaders.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak gave a keynote address to formally open the prosperity forum. IDL
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