‘Government working vigorously to improve business climate’

Published by rudy Date posted on May 28, 2011

Manila, Philippines – The Aquino administration is working vigorously to improve the country’s business environment amid declining investor optimism brought about by unsettling global developments, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday.

“Our team of economic managers continues to work on ways to streamline business processes, and our Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects are also already well on their way to fruition. These efforts will further enhance the economic outlook of our country. Its effects will be felt by the majority of our countrymen over the coming years as the Aquino administration continues to realize its vision of equitable growth,” he said.

Lacierda gave the assurance following reports of declining business optimism as shown by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Business Expectation Survey. The survey showed a decline in business optimism index for the second straight quarter under the Aquino administration.

Higher operating costs, slow business procedures, and delayed fund disbursements for the PPP scheme have been largely blamed for the decline.

Lacierda said the country’s economic outlook remains positive despite the effects of political instability in the Middle East and North Africa as well as the tsunami devastation in Japan.

“Our macroeconomic fundamentals remain sound and investments continue to flow into our country despite recent events which have adversely affected the global market,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said reforms were being implemented to boost the ranks of the optimists, “who at this point still far outnumber the pessimists.”

The optimism index increased to 45 percent in the third quarter after President Aquino was sworn into office.

The confidence index is computed as the percentage of firms that answered in the affirmative less the percentage of firms that answered in the negative regarding their views on a given indicator.

“They (respondents) cited some domestic constraints to the business environment that contributed to their weaker sentiment, namely, higher operational costs as well as slow business procedures and fund disbursements for government construction projects,” Rosabel Guerrero, BSP Department of Economic Statistics director, said.

Policy review

Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay urged the Aquino administration to review its policies if it wants investor confidence to improve and prevent previous economic gains from being wasted.

“This (business pessimism) shows the very slow response of the PNoy administration to issues like oil crisis, which spiked prices of basic commodities; under spending which caused economic slowdown and unemployment, which also brought down investor confidence in the country,” Magsaysay said.

“Despite the hype of the PNoy administration, they have failed in implementing government programs that will help boost and pump prime the economy,” she said.

She said job generation was affected because of wrong priorities that had led to less consumer spending.

“The economic managers of PNoy should rethink their position regarding their policy direction as continuing the present route will make matters worse for the economy,” Magsaysay said.

Raul Lambino, spokesman of the opposition Lakas-Kampi-CMD, said former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was able to make the economy grow every quarter even through the global recession of 2009.

He said Lakas-Kampi-CMD chairman emeritus and former President Fidel Ramos “unleashed the power of the free market and spurred remarkable growth through the Asian financial crisis of 1997.”

“But under P-Noy, unemployment has risen by nearly five points even though the global economy is already recovering. This is on top of inflation that’s much higher than what economists believe is normal with economic growth,” Lambino said.

“P-Noy is showing a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. He was blessed with growth and recovery that was bequeathed by GMA, yet he could not even take care of it or sustain it. We now have higher prices and fewer jobs. Pity us all,” he said. –-Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) with Paolo Romero

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