Aquino says Philippines will be more investor-friendly

Posted at 06/30/10 3:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III said his administration will make the country more attractive for investors.

In his inaugural speech on Wednesday, the newly-sworn in 15th president of the Philippines said his government's policies will craft policies and incentives aimed at building up investor confidence.

"We will be a predictable and consistent place for investment, a nation where everyone will say, 'it all works," said Aquino.

In a recent survey of expatriate business executives by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy or PERC, the Philippines, along with India and Indonesia, were cited as those in Asia with the most
inefficient bureaucracies, with red tape a constant blight to citizens and deterrent to foreign investment.

In the Philippines, the government “goes through the motion” of addressing problems of bureaucratic red tape “but nothing has really made a dent in the problem,” PERC said.

“Illegal fixing is well-entrenched in the Philippine bureaucracy,” it said, referring to people called “fixers” who offer to facilitate transactions with government offices for a fee and often in collaboration with corrupt employees."

Aquino vowed to get to the bottom of this.

"We will make our country attractive to investors. We will cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies. We will level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler,  not a hindrance to business. This is the only means by which we can provide jobs for our people."

Aquino said that under his watch, there will be "no more influence-peddling, no more patronage politics, no more stealing."

"No more short cuts, no more bribes. It is time for us to work together once more."

Peter Wallace, president of the Wallace Business Forum said earlier that Aquino has to move swiftly and decisively in his first 100 days in office to show the public that he means business.

"If you set a tone, people believe you can get other things done, and this builds confidence."

Market mover

The local equities market is likely to react positively to Aquino's inaugural statements, said analysts.

"Aquino was specific in his targets, I liked it," said Francisco Liboro, president of PCCI Securities.

He said that Aquino showed he was focused as he didn't stray from his campaign promises of weeding out graft and corruption.

"The question now will be how these policies will be implemented, but at the outset, the markets will welcome the fact that he is not ambiguous and that he he is staying within his reality - he did not
promise too much," said Liboro.

Astro del Castillo, a director of the Association of Stock Market Analysts of the Philippines said there may be "a bit of euphoria" when the market resumes trading on Thursday.

"The market will still be influenced by overseas markets, but at least in early trading, investors will be positively reacting to the new sheriff in town."

Del Castillo said the local bourse may move higher, especially if Aquino's economic blueprint is unveiled.

"Investors are eager to know the direction of this team. The major issue is getting back investor confidence, and if that is restored, everyone is hopeful that we can attract more foreign direct  investments."

Liboro said Aquino's promise to have a stable  business environment is a major criteria for both local and foreign investors thinking of setting up shop in the country.

"Too much uncertainties will make investors think twice about putting their money here. Look at Thailand, they are mired in political problems, but they are moving forward and it is still a preferred  investment site because they have consistent business policies." - Rocel Felix,  abs-cbnNews.com