The Philippines 6 – Economic and Social Success

In 2010, Benigno Aquino was elected president of the Philippines for a term of six years. His Government has successfully managed a period of positive national change, which has seen the Philippines develop from the sick man of Asia to the newest Tiger economy. Now in the final year of his presidential tenure, the time has come to look back upon the achievements that have helped Aquino to push his country forward.

The Filipino economy has performed well under the stewardship of the Aquino Government. A strong foreign exchange position, sustained income from exports and remittances from Filipinos working abroad have stabilised the economy during a period of change. The healthy position of the Filipino economy saw the major international credit rating agencies consistently raise credit ratings until the country was awarded investment grade status in 2013. The achievement of investment grade credit status was a big boost for the Philippines. It significantly improved investment prospects and reduced the cost of borrowing. Furthermore, it positively influenced perceptions about the prospects for the economy.

The Filipino economy is basically market-oriented. Successive Governments have been implementing structural reforms over the past decade to liberalise markets, increase competition and encourage inward foreign investment. In the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, The Aquino administration identified six priority investment areas in the fields of tourism, information technology and business process outsourcing, electronics, mining, construction and agriculture.

Almost all of the investment areas have benefited from new legislation to increase investment and make their activities more efficient. The progress of some areas has been more visible than others.

Tourism benefited significantly when the Government opened-up of Filipino airspace to international carriers in 2012.

IT and BPO has benefited from competition between the traditional hubs of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Clark and lower cost second and third-tier cities such as Baguio City, Davao City and Dumaguete City. Competition between cities to host multinational companies has improved the industry dynamic and focused service providers on better meeting the needs of their clients.

Construction is being driven by the Government’s Comprehensive Integrated Infrastructure Program, worth US$49 billion.

Good fiscal management by the Aquino Government has seen consistently higher receipts from taxes. Budgetary control has enabled the Government to re-direct resources to tackle funding deficits in education, public health and poverty alleviation.

One of the pre-election promises made by Aquino was to fight corruption with the goal of improving accountability in public office. The campaign to rid Government of corruption and bring the guilty to justice is one of the most comprehensive that the country has ever seen and represents a significant accomplishment in itself.

An important social achievement was the implementation of the responsible parenthood law, which provides resources to poor parents for help with family planning.

The most recent success of the Aquino Government was the hosting of the APEC summit.