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28/09/2012: Purisima Tells Washington Confab: Sick Man of Asia on Road to Recovery

28 September 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima finished his presentation on the performance of the Philippine economy at a conference here earlier this week, the predominantly American audience was convinced that the ‘sick man of Asia’ is finally on the road to recovery, the Philippine Embassy reported today.

In a statement, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said the presentation of Secretary Purisima at last Wednesday’s Philippine Conference on the positive macroeconomic developments in the country resulting from the Aquino Government’s mantra that “Good Governance is Good Economics” impressed the audience.

“Secretary Purisima did a very excellent job in painting a bright future for the Philippine economy and those who heard him—from officials of the United States government, representatives of think-tanks, executives from big business and members of the media and the academe, both Filipino and American—all agree that the Philippines has taken off,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

In his remarks at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the US-Philippines Society at the Capitol Hilton here, Secretary Purisima said President Aquino’s high approval and trust ratings of 78 percent has given his administration more political capital to pursue structural changes to transform the country.

He said the Aquino Administration has strengthened its resolve to further consolidate fiscal position, maintain macroeconomic stability, improve the investment climate and ease the cost of doing business to transform the Philippines into Asia’s next tiger economy in the next several years and the world’s 16th largest economy by 2050.

“This road to recovery is reflected in the improvements in the Philippines' ranking in governance and competitiveness indicators such as the World Economic Forum and credit rating agencies, which affirm the Aquino Administration's belief that good governance is good economics,” Secretary Purisima said.

“We are rolling up our sleeves and executing these initiatives on day-to-day basis. We are investing in people, technology and processes, and changing the culture of Philippine institutions,” said the finance secretary who also sits as the Governor for the Philippines of the World Bank. “We are headed in a direction where merit will be rewarded.”

Secretary Purisima’s optimism was shared by economists led by US Assistant Treasury Secretary Charles Collyns, who lauded Manila’s efforts in partnering with Washington in such innovative programs as the Millennium Challenge Account Compact and the Partnership for Growth.

Assistant Secretary Collyns also commended the Philippines for having “graduated with honors” from the International Monetary Fund program to address the balance of payments crisis and for the country’s very strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

“Overall, we are very positive with the Philippines. The country is on the right path, given its strong economic leadership and vibrant democracy,” Assistant Secretary Collyns concluded.

For his part, Stephen Groff, Vice President of Operations of the Asian Development Bank, confirmed a growing sense of optimism about the Philippines, saying it is “one of the fastest growing regional economies.”  He commended the administration’s good macroeconomic management and acknowledged that the “potential for the country is huge.”

Groff encouraged the government to continue working closely with the private sector in identifying priority areas of investments and in setting benchmarks for delivering results. He said the Philippines has “very good plans for budget execution” and recommended the “intensification of investments in Public-Private Partnership projects.”

Jay Collins, Global Co-Head of the Public Sector Group of Citigroup, emphasized that “transparency and good governance is a precursor to investment success” and recognized the Philippines as one of the leading countries in terms of mobile banking and advocacy for financial inclusion.

Pointing to the former American bases at Clark and Subic, Collins predicted that the Philippines will be a major global logistics hub and urged the government to ensure the “connectivity of the tourism sector to other themes in the economy.” ###