Aquino: Philippines in ‘midst of dramatic turnaround’

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Thursday vowed to sustain the momentum of continuous economic growth as he cited that the country is in the "midst of a dramatic turnaround" in every sector.

The Chief Executive made the statement during the opening of the 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA) in Makati City where he was also joined by other Southeast Asian leaders such as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Myanmar Vice President U Nyan Tun.

"It is evident that our country is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround in every sector, and we are intent on continuing this trend and making certain that each and every Filipino enjoys the full dividends of progress," he told the delegates and organizers of the WEF-EA.

All signs for the future are pointing upwards, he said, citing United Nations population projections that noted that by 2015, the country will be hitting a "demographic sweet spot" that will last for the next 35 years.

He said countries that experience such conditions would post an average yearly growth of 7.3 percent over the next 10 years.

The government, he said, is poised to take full advantage of the situation, having made strategic investments in education and skills training to equip the country's future workforce.

"Good governance is good economics, and the results of our reforms on the economic end are proving us right," he said.

In 2013, he said, the Philippine economy grew by 7.2 percent, making it one of the fastest growing countries in Asia.

This growth was achieved despite successive natural and man-made disasters that hit the country late last year, among them the Zamboanga Siege incident in September, the Bohol earthquake in October, and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November, he said.

He further noted the renewed perceptions of the international community towards the Philippines. In the past year, all three major credit ratings agencies gave the Philippines investment upgrades.

And just two weeks ago, he said, Standard & Poor's gave the country another upgrade—from BBB- to BBB.

The President thanked the WEF for improving its outlook on the Philippines. From 2010 to 2013, the Philippines had moved up 26 places in the WEF's competitiveness rankings—from 85th to 59th.

He also made a commitment to continue reviving the manufacturing sector and increasing government spending on infrastructure, which has already doubled from an estimated P200 billion in 2011 to more than P400 billion in 2014.

The President pledged that his government will continue to ensure food security with the appointment of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan.

Apart from closely cooperating with other Asean neighbors in ensuring food security, the Philippines is intent on taking advantage of advances in technology to further improve its agricultural output, he said.

Earlier in his message, the President mentioned the bureaucratic reforms being carried out by his administration, among them making the budgeting system more efficient, going after tax evaders and smugglers, charging erring officials in the previous administration, and implementing anti-poverty programs.

He specifically cited the case of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is now under hospital arrest for facing two serious charges, with another being evaluated by the Ombudsman.

He also noted that the House of Representatives and the Senate removed Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona from office for "failing to declare over 98 percent of his assets in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth contrary to our constitution and our laws."

Aquino also reported on the ongoing conditional cash transfer program, as well as the reforms and projects in education, the healthcare system and the military. (SDR/Sunnex)

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