The Philippines’ Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Cesar Purisima won the Finance Minister of the Year award for Asia-Pacific in 2014 granted by the Hong Kong-based FinanceAsia magazine.
Purisima bested his counterparts from Singapore, China and Japan, gaining recognition for his contribution to the country’s economic achievements even at a time President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s political government, his military and police forces, as well as both Houses of Congress, were struggling with leadership issues and corruption scandals.
It was Purisima’s fifth such award since he assumed the Cabinet post four years ago, bagging two of those in 2013 from two separate financial publications.
“The winner of this year’s Finance Minister of the Year award is the Philippines’ Cesar Purisima, one of the few who delivered in 2014,” FinanceAsia said in an article posted on its website.
The publication said the winners were chosen with the help of a number of analysts, investors and bankers who were all kept anonymous.
The team weighed each minister’s contribution to the budget and fiscal policy of their country; use and development of capital markets; where applicable, structural reforms and regulation; investor perceptions; and that most intangible of things, independence.
“It takes a confident finance minister to complain after seeing his country bumped up to investment grade by Moody’s [Investors Service], Standard & Poor’s and Fitch [Ratings],” it said.
The DOF chief was lauded for steering the economy away from stagnation and toward broad-based growth, resulting in the Philippines reaching investment grade status from major credit rating agencies.
“Purisima was certainly dealt a decent hand by positive economic trends when he took office, including a global investor flight to emerging markets following the West’s financial crisis,” FinanceAsia said.
At the awards ceremony held on February 4, Purisima said the award truly belongs to President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his colleagues in the Cabinet “because economic growth and fiscal reforms are truly a team effort, proving that ‘good governance is good economics.’
“We have proven yet again that the Philippine miracle is not a one-hit wonder. We’re here to stay, and we are ready to play big in the world stage,” he said.
FinanceAsia also cited Purisima’s role in pushing for the Sin Tax Reform, credited for boosting the health budget by 57 percent from the 2013 levels, with a share of the highest collected excise taxes in 13 years.
“Reforms beget rewards. This award strengthens our resolve to double down on reforms: rationalize fiscal incentives, modernize our revenue generating agencies, and engineer a competitive and equitable tax structure for all Filipinos,” Purisima said.
In 2011, Purisima received recognition as Finance Minister of the Year for Asia by the publication Emerging Markets, while Euromoney gave him the distinction of Finance Minister of the Year for 2012.
In 2013, the DOF chief became Emerging Markets’ repeat awardee—so far the first and only such awardee honored by the publication—as Finance Minister of the Year for Asia.
He was also cited by The Banker as Finance Minister of the Year for Asia Pacific in 2013.