By J. Albert Gamboa
As we welcome the start of a new decade, it is heartening to know that the Philippines will remain among the fastest-growing economies in the world, based on a recent report from the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) titled “The Next Decade.”
Simon Baptist, EIU global chief economist and managing director for Asia, predicts that the Philippines, Kenya, and Bangladesh will have the most robust economies in the 2020s. He also forecasts Southeast Asia, Africa, and South Asia to attain the fastest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates in the next 10 years.
Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balisacan noted that the country’s GDP grew by an average of 6.3% in the 2010s — the most prosperous decade in our history and the first time ever that our economy garnered investment-grade status from international credit rating agencies.
Mr. Baptist attributed the sustained economic growth of the Philippines to five factors: young population, English language skills, trade openness, urbanization reducing natural disaster exposure, and political stability. The latter may be due to the fact that we had no major upheavals during the 2010s, unlike the tumultuous period from the 1970s to the early 2000s.
An indication that our nation has become politically stable is the continued acceptability of our top national officials among majority of Filipinos. As manifested in the fourth quarter 2019 nationwide survey conducted by Pulse Asia, the four highest officials of the land all got better scores compared to their third-quarter results.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s performance approval and trust ratings went up by nine percentage points to 87% and 83%, while those of Vice-President Maria Leonor Robredo increased by eight percentage points to 58% and 53%. Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s ratings jumped 12 percentage points to 84% and 78%.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III credited Mr. Duterte’s high scores to the declining poverty rate as well as the euphoria generated by the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).
But the most improved ratings were recorded House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, whose approval rating surged by 16 percentage points to 80%, while his 76% trust score was 14 percentage points up from the previous quarter.
Significantly, Mr. Cayetano garnered much better ratings than his predecessors in the 17th Congress, former Speakers Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Pantaleon Alvarez. Veteran legislators could not recall any House Speaker who has garnered such high scores in recent memory.
This despite the initial SEAG snags blamed by detractors on the organizing committee chaired by Mr. Cayetano. His positive showing must have rubbed off on his fellow lawmakers since the House of Representatives’ overall rating rose to 66% in the latest Pulse Asia survey. Thus, a growing number of congressmen now believe there is no need to change the chamber’s leadership for the remainder of the 18th Congress.
Continuity and consistency in public governance would further ensure the country’s political stability and sustained growth over the next two years, resulting to another prosperous decade for the Philippine economy.
CULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY AT EXPO 2020
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the World Expo 2020 that opens this October at the Dubai World Central economic zone. Participants from 192 countries are converging in the UAE for the six-month event sanctioned by the Bureau International des Expositions.
To be mounted at the Sustainability District of the Expo 2020 Dubai, the Philippine Pavilion will carry the concept of “Bangkota” — an ancient Tagalog word meaning “coral reef” that reflects the collective identity of Filipinos. Architect Royal Pineda, the pavilion’s overall artistic director, pointed out that as the largest living organism, the coral reef is similar to “how we see the Filipinos being deployed globally” and could trigger conversations on cultural sustainability between people of different ethnicities.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has been appointed chairman and commissioner-general of the Philippine Organizing Committee for Expo 2020 that includes six other Cabinet departments. DTI Assistant Secretary Rosvi Gaetos heads the Expo Philippines Secretariat, which may be reached via telephone no. +632 88904898 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Mr. Lopez, Expo 2020 would be “the biggest international exhibition that the Philippines will participate in, serving as an ideal platform to showcase the best of the country in terms of trade, tourism, and investments.”
J. Albert Gamboa is CFO of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and chairman of FINEX Publications.