THE success of the Philippine economy, which is viewed by the movers and shakers of the world as among the shining stars of the global economy, must not be attributed to President BS Aquino who loves to crow about it and in the process claim credit.
The growth trajectory of our economy, which is now enjoying more than 20 years of steady increase, was fixed during the tenure of previous presidents, but mainly by the efforts of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. BS Aquino unjustly thumps his chest about the Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poors raising of our country to higher than minimum investment grade, but the work to achieve this happened under other Presidents — especially Mrs. Arroyo.
The reasons for our bright economic star are, first of all, the Overseas Filipino Workers’ remittances. These fuel our consumer-driven domestic economy, fund the real estate boom and other indications of growth and health, and make our country’s foreign exchange reserves among the world’s heftiest. Another reason is the resilience of the private sector businessmen and industrialists. The strongest pillar of our economic success is Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco’s steady watch over our interest rates and the money supply and his sagacious moves to forestall inflation surges.
Gov. Tetangco is not only admired by bankers, finance people and those who know banking and central banking in the Philippines. He has seven times been ranked among the world’s best central bankers by the prestigious New York-based Global Finance magazine.
Tetangco has been earning an “A” grade on Global Finance’s Central Banker Report Cards. To show the importance of this triumph, the US, for example, got only the next highest grade “A-minus.”
Gov. Tetangco is, however, not just a superb central banker. He is also concerned with social issues — such as uplifting the very large part of our population who are not benefiting from our “global shining star” economic status. The public got a reminder of this once more during last week’s 3rd Manila Times Business Forum of which he was the keynote speaker.
In his deep, extremely informative and challenging speech, “Sustaining Resilience Amid Headwinds,” he drove home three points to the audience. Working on the fact that the organizer of the event is a newspaper, he used the conceit of “headlines” in labeling the three vital points.
A stable macroeconomy must be inclusive
His third point is “Headline number 3: A stable macroeconomy should be inclusive.” Here it is in full:
“Some of you in the audience may be wondering why the Central Bank Governor would speak about inclusiveness. With the many macroeconomic and banking concerns it already has, should the central bank still be involved in inclusion. Our response in the BSP is YES, we should. We cannot ignore the financial consumer. When all is said and done, the purpose of a stable macroeconomic environment is ultimately to improve the consumer’s well-being.
“In the BSP, we have institutionalized financial inclusion in our strategic agenda. We put in place banking regulations that leverage on technology to increase access to financial products for the underserved and unbanked, strengthen financial consumer protection, and raise financial education and awareness to these new financial products and modes of delivery.
“We will also pursue the development of our National Retail Payments System or NRPS. The NRPS should move the country from being cash-heavy to being ‘cash-lite.’ The NRPS is expected to improve transparency, security, and efficiency and reduce costs in financial transactions.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I presented three headlines. First, the Philippines bucked the trend in 2015. Next, we will continue to be resilient in 2016. And, finally we will endeavor to share the fruits of a strong macroeconomy to a broader cross-section of the economy. These three should be sufficient to make a full page of news.
“Indeed, our country has continued to expand despite the difficult external and domestic operating environment. It has been said that difficulty or adversity BUILDS character. In a way, we can say that the challenges our country has faced so far, and continue to face, have helped BUILD our character. We have also built buffers in the interim. And have become stronger as a nation.
“But, I also believe difficulties or adversities REVEAL character. The challenges and difficulties we have faced have revealed that we, as a nation, have what it takes to be resilient.
“However, ladies and gentlemen, these sources of resilience and buffers, the gains that we have attained so far, all these can only be fully harnessed if YOU in the private sector will continue to do your part as well. YOU turn the wheels of industry and business. YOUR actions will help solidify these gains. I hope to see YOU make headlines of your own. Headlines that will help ensure the Philippines sustain resilience in 2016 and beyond.”