BUSINESS FORUM: SM’s Guidote laments economic losses, ‘missed opportunities’ over corruption, drugs

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DAVAO CITY: AN investor-relations executive of a holding company with diversified interests has lamented the huge economic losses incurred through corruption, drugs, and many other factors, and said that fighting illegal behavior by public officials remains needing a strong “political will” from government.

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“We have anti-corruption laws but are not imposed [efficiently],” Corazon Guidote, senior vice president for investor relations and corporate communications at SM Investments Corp., today said at The Manila Times’ The Fifth Business Forum, held at the Marco Polo Hotel, in Davao City. “Let’s see if this administration has the political will to do it.”

In her presentation titled “Moving Toward Our Economic Potential,” Guidote also told the forum, dubbed “The Philippine Economic Outlook for 2017: Peace Toward Sustainable Prosperity,” that the country’s inability to generate enough jobs, fiscal underspending, and narco politics also contribute to huge economic losses.

She said the estimated cost of corruption alone, citing various sources in 2010, 2010 – ’13, and 2014, reached P334 billion per annum, owing to malversation of public funds, tax evasion, bribery, smuggling, and abuse of authority and power.

Guidote said the economic cost of illegal-drug use, on the other hand, amounts to P87.8 billion per annum involving about 3.7 million drug addicts nationwide. She added that the combined losses emanating from narco politics and corruption, amounting to P422 billion, is equivalent to 1.5 – 2.5 percent of GDP or 17 percent of the national budget.

Also citing the “Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project,” Guidote stressed about “missed opportunities” from a yearly corruption losses of P250 billion that could have been spent for either 1 million new homes or  the rehabilitation of 5.5 million hectares of damaged farmlands; or it could have been used to purchase more than 94,000 ambulances or more than 17 million school computers.

“So there are lots of missed opportunities,” she said, talking about the social impact of corruption. “It’s becoming institutional, and that is sad.” She stressed that the economy’s perceived lack of competitiveness, owing to having failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities, “negatively impacts” FDIs or foreign direct investments.

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