Emergence of an Asian Tiger
Anti-corruption Policies in the Philippines Breed Economic Success
Benigno S. Aquino III/president of the Philippines
These past few years, the Philippines has become one of the prominent success stories in the global economic scene. Perhaps some of you have read the story of how, in 2010, the Filipino people voted for the idea that ultimately turned our country around, the idea that drove my campaign for the presidency: Where there is no corruption, there will be no poverty.
Since our first day in office, we have stayed true to our promise to the people, and we have undertaken reform after reform. We overhauled our budgeting process to make certain that our people’s money would be spent in a manner that maximizes the benefits to our people; we pursued all those who committed wrongdoing, regardless of their position or influence, so that they may be brought to justice; and we fostered a business environment that rewarded hard work and innovation, as opposed to a mere willingness to bend the rules. Over the years, these reforms, among others, have allowed our country to shed the title of “Sick Man of Asia.” Some have even begun calling us “Asia’s Rising Tiger,” having seen our improved economic performance.
Perhaps I can share with you some of the more prominent economic developments in our country. Our gross domestic product (GDP), from 2010 to 2013, registered an average growth of 6.3 percent, which is a stark improvement from 2006 to 2009, when the average was at 4.3 percent. This development is even more impressive considering that, over the span of the last four years and four months, growth in our country has become increasingly driven by investments and trade, to go along with large consumption fueled by remittances from abroad. This is an indicator of a more balanced and more resilient economy, one that can better withstand shocks, and one that is consequently more attractive to investors. Quality of employment has also been improving, meaning more Filipinos are earning increasingly stable incomes, and are thus able to better plan for the future.
The World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report has likewise cited us as the most improved country since 2010. On top of this, we received 20 positive credit rating actions from agencies around the world over the course of our administration. This includes investment grade ratings from the three most renowned credit ratings agencies, namely: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch.
Indeed, over the course of our administration, we have proven: Good governance is good economics. I assure all of you: Our efforts will not stop here. We are looking to go from strength to strength. One way we are doing this is by making massive investments in our greatest resource, the Filipino people, because we know that it is through empowering them that we can sustain our country’s momentum. From 2010 to 2013, we have increased the budgets of our Department of Education and our Technical Education and Skills Development Authority by 75 percent and 77 percent, respectively, and moving forward, we are looking to redouble our efforts in these fields. Our country will be hitting a “demographic sweet spot” by 2015. As the majority of our population reaches working age, we want to make certain that they can continue capitalizing on the job openings that are being created.
Over the past three years, we have also more than doubled our annual infrastructure allocation. From about 2.3 percent of GDP, or 200.3 billion pesos, in 2011, it has risen to 404.3 billion in 2014. Ultimately, by 2016, we intend for it to reach 5 percent of our GDP, which is likewise experiencing continued growth. These are just a few examples of our continued efforts to keep the dynamo of progress engaged in full throttle, and it is clear: There is no better time to invest in the Philippines than now.
We encourage all those in attendance today to take a closer look at the Philippines, or, if you had been previously intrigued by our country, to transform your interest into something more concrete. Rest assured, my government will do everything in its power to ensure that the Philippines will remain competitive for many years to come. We are extremely eager to work with all of you and are hopeful that you can eventually invest in our country and become part of the great Philippine turnaround.
Perhaps just to emphasize: We believe the wherewithal and the base for all the things that we’ve been trying to do, the reforms in our country, emanates from the mandate given by our people. So, our focus is also on ensuring that all of our people get the maximum opportunities for them to participate in the growth of our country. The growth has to be inclusive for all.