President Benigno Aquino 3rd will take every opportunity to showcase the Philippines as the best investment location in the region during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Metro Manila this week, Malacañang said on Sunday.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the holding of WEF meetings in the country is a recognition of the Philippines’ “strong macroeconomic fundamentals due to the reforms implemented.”
“We now believe the ongoing reforms to address shortcomings in structural, administrative, institutional and governance areas will endure beyond the current administration,” Coloma said
He, however, admitted that more needs to be done to ensure that the economic growth will continue.
“It is paramount that we focus on jobs creation and inclusive growth,” Coloma said
This is why social services got a 37.4 percent chunk in the 2014 budget, or around P972 billion, he said. This covers the budget outlay of the departments of Labor and Employment and Social Welfare as well as the conditional cash transfer program.
Also during the WEF, Filipinos, according to Coloma, should show the country’s visitors its famous brand of hospitality and why “it’s more fun in the Philippines.”
At least two heads of state and about 600 business and civil society leaders from over 30 countries will be in town from May 21 to 23 for the WEF meetings to be held in Makati City.
Aquino will deliver the keynote speech on the event’s first day before an audience that includes Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Burmese Vice President U Nyan Tun.
Under the meeting’s theme, “Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress,” the participants will deliberate opportunities of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Economic Community to promote greater inclusion across the region, he said.
The program is built on three pillars: achieving equitable progress, advancing models for sustainable growth and realizing regional connectivity, Coloma said
In a statement, the WEF said the meetings of some of the region’s most influential people would be held against a backdrop of impressive growth rates and an ambitious journey toward regional integration and trade liberalization.
The WEF refers to itself as an independent international institution committed to improving the state of the world by promoting partnerships between governments and the private sector. Its members in the Philippines include conglomerates Ayala Corp. and SM Investments, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and global port giant International Container Terminal Services Inc.
“Over three billion people live in Asean, China and India, and in 2014, the whole East Asian region is expected to be the fastest-growing region in the world,” WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said in a statement.
“Such progress is impressive only when industry and government leaders are fully committed to equitable distribution and inclusive growth,” he added.
Police in neighboring Pasay City will help secure the forum by deploying more law enforcers for the duration of the gathering in areas in the city that the foreign delegates are expected to visit.
Pasay City Police Chief Senior Supt. Florencio Ortilla over the weekend said some 264 police personnel will be deployed on a 24-hour, double-shift basis to provide security for the delegates.
To be watched closely are routes the visitors may be taking from the airport upon arrival to the forum venue, departure after forum adjournment as well as destinations for rest and recreation to include SM Mall of Asia and Resorts World, both in Pasay.
“We are working doubly hard to ensure that the forum will be secure and peaceful. It is our pride as a country,” Ortilla said.
Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto said “this [WEF] is a milestone event not just for Pasay but for the entire country.”
“It is a timely opportunity for our city and the whole country to attract investors who will be our partners in continuing the development in infrastructure, business investments and trading,” Calixto added.
With RITCHIE A. HORARIO