PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday vowed to liberalize more industries in the Philippines and substantially cut down red tape as part of government reforms to make the country more appealing to investors.
The President made the promise as he encouraged Spanish businessmen to invest in the Philippines and boasted that the country is nearing the reputation of being an investment and tourism haven in Asia.
“As the Spanish economy sho ws encouraging signs of recovery, I believe that this is an opportune time to invite you to invest in a resurgent economy,” Aquino said at the Networking with the Philippine Business Delegation event in Madrid, Spain.
The President told businessmen that the major economic achievements of his administration and its fight against corruption have prepared the country to be an investment hub.
He highlighted the Philippines’ strong economic growth record, noting that from 2010 to 2013, the country registered an average growth of 6.3 percent.
Aquino said the investment grade status from Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Group and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report naming the Philippines as the most improved country since 2010 are proof that the country is a sound investment destination.
“All of this, we have to stress, is only the beginning. Our focus has always been on inclusive growth, which necessarily means prioritizing our greatest resource, the Filipino people,” Aquino said.
He explained that his administration has been focusing on improving the lives of the poor, and that his government has succeeded in lifting around 2.5 million Filipinos above the poverty line.
The President said the government is focusing on pushing the “near poor” away from the poverty line.
“Indeed, we are working to go from strength to strength. Moving forward, we continue to invest in infrastructure, to develop key industries like manufacturing, and to expand the coverage of social services, healthcare, and education—so that more Filipinos can take part and contribute to this economic resurgence,” he added.
“We are determined to prove to the world an important truth about our country: In the Philippines you will find a place where the government is focused on investing in its greatest resource, its people; a nation where entrepreneurs are viewed as partners, and where everyone works to prove that, for tourists and businesses alike,” Aquino said.
More fun in PH
The President outlined his administration’s achievements in tourism, education and infrastructure when he met with the Filipino community at the Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.
“All of the changes that we have been enjoying were results of restored trust and confidence of the people in the government and their selves brought about by fair system and good governance,” he said.
Aquino noted progress in the tourism sector that would make it possible to achieve 10 million tourist arrivals in the last two years of his term until 2016.
He said Filipinos should expect more flights to Europe and the United States as a result of the the upgrade of the Philippines to Category 1 status by the US Federal Aviation Administration.
“Our invitation to the entire world: We are not just open for business, it’s more fun in the Philippines,” Aquino added.
The President also noted that infrastructure developments, including construction and repairs of major roads and public transportation facilities, are in full swing.
He cited the construction and improvements of major expressways in the country including the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), the Subic-Clark-Tarlac North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway.
And by the end of 2014 and next year, Aquino said, TPLEX will be extended up to Urdaneta, Pangasinan and Rosario, La Union, respectively.
He mentioned other major infrastructure projects such as the Cavite Light Rail Transit extension, upgrade of airports and seaports, construction and development of the Clark Green City in Central Luzon, which will be bigger than the Bonifacio Global City, and the bus rapid transit project in Cebu.
“We don’t wait for the so-called trickle down effect. The benefits to the people, just like how the famous line of my sister Kris goes: Now na! [It’s now],” Aquino said.