President Aquino underscores need to invest in Filipino people to achieve inclusive growth

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Sept. 11 (PNA) – President Benigno Aquino III underscored on Friday the need to invest on his bosses –- the Filipino people — as best way to achieve inclusive growth that has become the driving force of his administration’s reform strategy.

In front of the delegates to the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) general meeting at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, the President said the Filipino people “are front and center in our governance agenda.”

”Over the years, they have proven to be our country’s greatest resource — from the time they rose up against a dictator to reclaim democracy, to the time they voted for meaningful change in 2010, and even to the present day, as they fuel our resurgent economy,” the President said in his speech.

”They are our Bosses, and we see them as our most vital partners in growing the economy. This, we believe, is the quickest path to inclusive growth,” he added.

To get the people involved in achieving inclusive growth, the President said his administration has focused on quality education through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the K to 12 program which extended basic education cycle from 10 to 12 years.

”Earlier this year, we celebrated the high school graduation of children belonging to the first batch of beneficiaries of the expanded CCT Program: 333,673 Filipino boys and girls who are now more equipped to realize a brighter future for themselves and for their families,” the President said.

”This, ladies and gentlemen, sparks a virtuous cycle of opportunity and empowerment, and this has been the goal of our administration from the very beginning,” he added.

The President said as his government invested in the Filipino people, “so too have we been hard at work to ensure that these investment pay off — that the Philippines becomes a true regime of opportunities.”

”From holding the corrupt accountable, to plugging leaks and holes in the system, to exercising fiscal prudence — systematic reform has been implemented to level the playing field and create an attractive climate for business. Transparency and accountability are no longer just ideals; they are realities in the Philippines,” President Aquino said.

Under his ‘Daang Matuwid” (straight path) policy, the President said his administration has gained the confidence of the world.

”We have climbed competitiveness indices at a tremendous pace; we have achieved investment grade — and continued to receive upgrades — from the three major credit ratings agencies,” he told the PECC delegates.

The President reported that the Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector now employs over a million individuals and earns nearly USD 19 billion in revenues.

He also said Philippine manufacturing has rebounded completely: growing by 8 percent from 2010 to 2014, which is significantly higher than its three percent growth from 2001 to 2009.

”In 2014, foreign direct investments were at an all-time high at USD 6.20 billion. Nowhere is this optimism more evident than in our own countrymen. Under the previous administration, from the first quarter of 2003 to the second quarter of 2010, domestic investments totaled only PhP1.24 trillion. On the other hand, under our watch: From the third quarter of 2010 to just the last quarter of 2014, investments by Filipino nationals stand at PhP2.09 trillion,” the President said.

”It goes without saying: Everyone, across the entire spectrum of society, is fully and completely engaged in growth — and we want to accelerate this momentum. Government is exerting the maximum effort to further engender an atmosphere conducive to business, down to our communities,” he added.

The President commended the PECC for contributing “so much, not only in crafting policy, but also in shaping a more stable and more prosperous Asia-Pacific.”

”Indeed: By working together, we will find it much easier to solve our collective challenges. Foremost among these is how to achieve balanced, sustained, and inclusive growth,” the President said.

The result of the PECC meeting will be presented during the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit that the Philippines will host in November. (PNA)