MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino said the countryâ€™s biggest corporations had committed to invest over P2 trillion in the economy over the next five years as he trumpeted that his straight policy had been resulting in concrete gains for the country.
â€œThe business sector is making a big bet on the economy, and on our people; in so doing, they are creating opportunities for our countrymen,â€ Aquino said in a speech before various clubs during the Business Forum of Joint Alumni Clubs in Makati City Wednesday night.
The President said investments generated by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority had reached P1.99 trillion in 2011. He said PEZA was created in 1995 and about P420 billion of that came in during his watch. â€œAbout 23 percent of the total from 1995. So to our mind that seems to be an accelerating trend,â€ Aquino said.
He also bared two major shipbuilding companies and two steel manufacturing would come into the country.
â€œWeâ€™re fourth largest shipbuilding country alreadyâ€¦ I will tend to be diplomatic but thereâ€™s a lot of movement of other businesses that are coming in or expanding their operations here,â€ he said.
The President said he was bent on continuing the reforms and that he was happy the Philippines was starting to achieve its potentials.
â€œI think you would all be in agreement when I say: that day has come. Youâ€™ve seen the countless times our stock market has breached heights that were previously thought of as impossible â€” what was once considered unattainable ceilings of 4,000, and later 5,000, in the (Philippine) Stock Exchange index, are now the norm. Youâ€™ve heard it from international groups and organizations: from the credit ratings agencies that have already given us six positive ratings actions, to the study by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Survey which named the Philippines as the number one ideal destination of businessmen in Asia, whether in the manufacturing or service sectors,â€ he said.
â€œAnd Iâ€™m happy to hear that many of you echo the same sentiments: according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report, we have the fourth most optimistic community of business leaders. Judging by the smiles on your faces, if may I look if youâ€™re smiling, yes you are, I guess that survey is also true,â€ Aquino added.
The President said there was no room for complacency and â€œweâ€™re working even harder to make sure that the confidence of the world â€” and indeed of our countrymen â€” does not waver, and continues to strengthen.â€
â€œPart of this includes making sure that our money works for the good of the country,â€ he said.
Aquino said aside from attracting investors, the government could invest in social services and infrastructure projects more now because corruption was beginning to be curbed.
â€œHopefully, Iâ€™m correct in my assumption that if we total the individual contributions of the taxpayers here, it would amount to a good-sized slice of our revenue pie. Can I repeat that last paragraphâ€¦So I take this opportunity to assure you that the money you pay in taxes is working for your benefit and for the benefit of all our countrymen,â€ the President said.
â€œWeâ€™ve fixed the way we spend our money â€” making sure we get the best results at the best price while adhering to the principles of transparency and accountability. And already, the results have been tremendous,â€ he said.
The President said as of early May, the Department of Public Works and Highways had saved a total of P6.14 billion from their 2011 budget.
â€œImagine this from an agency previously considered almost to be always one of the most corrupt. This is money that we can put towards expanding programs that work, and whose benefits are immediately felt by Filipinos,â€ he said, mentioning the conditional cash transfer program for the poor where more than three million families were enrolled as of March 21.
The President also said on Wednesday during a Bombo Radyo interview that a company that had invested P5 billion in the Philippines and hired 2,000 employees would shell out another billion and get 500 more employees.
He said there had been significant investments in education, infrastructure, housing units for government workers, police and military modernization.
The President also reiterated that the Philippines was on track in becoming a rice exporter from an importer and a nation known for wasting rice.
Aquino said any economic growth should trickle down the poor through social services and projects that could give them jobs.
The government may roll out two more public-private partnership (PPP) projects on top of the eight to be laid out this year, President Aquino said.
Aquino said during the business forum of Joint Alumni Clubs of US Universities on Wednesday night that, while the government intends to roll out eight PPP projects this year, it may add two more projects depending on the preparations of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
â€œWe will roll out eight (PPP) projects this year. There might be additional two subject to NEDA Board approval,â€ he said.
He did not identify the additional projects however.
The eight PPP projects for roll out this year include the P60 billion extension of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 from Baclaran to Bacoor in Cavite, the connector between the South Luzon (SLEx) and North Luzon Expressways, the Cavite-Laguna Expressway; the infrastructure for schools project, and the Mactan Cebu airport development project.
Last year, the government was only able to bid out one PPP project, the Daang Hari-SLEx link which was awarded to Ayala Corp. in December.
The Department of Public Works and Highways signed the agreement for the P1.96 billion Daang Hari -SLEx road link with Ayala Corp. last April.
The government had said the delay in the roll out of projects last year was due to the work that had to be done to create an environment for the PPP program, which entailed the review of rules.
Earlier this year, the government allocated P19.6 billion in counterpart funds for the PPP program.
This yearâ€™s allocated funds for the PPP program is higher than the P12.5 billion allotted last year in order to help the program gain more traction to fill infrastructure gaps and achieve economic growth. â€“Â Louella Desiderio
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