"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Keeping Focus on the Economy

The Congressional hearings or investigations in both houses of Congress on jueteng and the tapes are political exercises in accordance with the functions of the Legislative Department under theConstitution. While difficult, and at times painful, these are necessary processes in the quest for truth and improved legislation that may not be immediately apparent to the public and to our people.

However, we must keep our eye on the ball and must not forget the fundamentals - namely the development of a strong national economy and the promotion of a just and dynamic social order that will free our people from poverty.Thus, I am pleased that the Department of Finance assured today that economic reforms that have been successful shall be actively pursued. I am also pleased to note the nomination of former Congressman and Land Bank President Margarito Teves as the new Secretary of Finance -I am sure that he will continue to provide effective leadership based on his experience in both the private and public sectors. The issue we must immediately address – is the downgrading of thePhilippines sovereign ratings by international credit agencies due to two key factors:

1. the perception of political instability due to the manner in which some people have turned the present events into political hysteria; and

2. the suspension of the E-VAT implementation.

I will say nothing further on this second point as it is currently under review by the Supreme Court. These factors have made it more difficult for us to compete in the international arena, not only for tourism and investments, but also for business and employment opportunities as reliable suppliers in the global market. Such will negatively impact locally on our job creation capability with negative consequences on employment and poverty alleviation - not only in the cities but also in the rural areas around our country.

Thus, in spite of any political fray, I shall continue to support the institutionalization of reforms in our economic and financial sectors to help us address the issues of globalization and competition.

13 July 2005
Manila