Businessmen and entrepreneurs like me look forward to the presidential elections of 2022, as they will bring a new set of leaders who will guide our nation to further progress. The new CEO will bring with him a set of political, economic and social agendas aimed at solving the nation’s problems.
The new set of leaders will face essentially the same challenges that have harassed previous administrations: poverty, lack of housing, income disparity, peace and order mainly in the South, traffic jams and unemployment. The current administration has been quite successful in finding solutions to these problems, but we all know that it will take more than six years for a government to fix and overcome all of these problems.
For starters, entrepreneurs like me want stable economic policies that won’t deviate significantly from current policies. They should promote investment to create jobs and relax the rules of doing business instead of discouraging business people. Continuity, for me, is the key to governance.
Above all, the new administration is expected to improve the lot of millions of poor Filipinos. As I have argued in the past, the new CEO is expected to improve the living conditions of millions of Filipinos living below the poverty line. Giving the unfortunate among us the chance to break the cycle of poverty is already an accomplishment. We can do this if we find solutions to increase the incomes of farmers and fishermen in the countryside, create employment opportunities for the unemployed and provide housing for the homeless.
An economy will become stronger if the government implements a massive infrastructure program that generates jobs, stabilizes prices and attracts more domestic and foreign investment. These, in turn, create political stability. No nation will be politically stable if the economy falters. People will be restless if many are unemployed and cannot afford to feed their families.
The current administration has managed to keep the economy out of the water in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. The economy has not collapsed despite the closure of many business establishments, although quarantines and closures have cut many jobs. Throughout the pandemic and amid a wave of downgrades around the world, the Philippines has maintained its investment grade credit ratings.
Our strong macroeconomic fundamentals saved us despite the lingering impact of the global health crisis. Inflation and exchange rates are fairly stable, while gross international reserves are around $ 110 billion. A stable banking system, record interest rates and economic growth of 7.1 percent in the third quarter all point to a strong recovery next year.
After the 12% expansion of gross domestic product in the second quarter of this year, the growth rate of 7.1% in the third quarter is one of the highest in Southeast Asia.
I am confident that the Philippine economy will rebound strongly next year given our success in containing Covid-19 and the increased vaccination rate. Consumer spending is back after the economic reopening and I expect an upward trend with the opening of face-to-face classes.
Tourism, meanwhile, will see a strong rebound after the government decided last week to welcome fully vaccinated tourists from most countries from this week, or nearly 20 months after the Philippines shut down its operations. borders to contain the virus infection. Foreign tourists are a boon to the economy. In addition to the hard currency they spend on our shores, foreign tourists help host communities by creating jobs and providing income for hotels and small businesses, such as restaurants and souvenir shops.
This development is also a welcome relief for our millions of Filipino overseas workers who have found themselves stranded abroad due to the pandemic. These returning OFWs will also boost spending in shopping malls and fast food outlets, as well as investment in the real estate sector.
A growing economy with strong macroeconomic fundamentals is the reward for the country’s next president. As I wrote in this column before, the next President of the Philippines will have a much easier time than what President Rodrigo Duterte is going through right now. But he or she still has to get down to work to improve the lot for many Filipinos.
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