Economy at stake in the polls

The Philippines will choose a new chief executive on Monday to replace President Benigno Aquino III, with the results of the political exercise largely shaping the course of the economy in the next six years.

Many of the Filipinos may not be aware of it, but their presidential choice will mainly be responsible for luring investments, creating job opportunities and improving the lot of the majority of the population.

The Philippine economy had a relatively stellar performance under the administrations of past President Gloria Macapal Arroyo and President Aquino. The gross domestic product in the last 15 years had grown steadily despite a global economic meltdown and shrinking export market.

President Aquino built on the economic success of Ms. Arroyo, who fixed the budget deficit problem by raising tax revenues and developed the business process outsourcing sector as a third major dollar earner after exports and tourism.

President Aquino corrected budget leakages and strengthened investments through the Public-Private Partnership program in trying to jump-start major infrastructure projects that the Philippines sorely needs to boost the economy further.

The new president, meanwhile, must follow the footsteps of President Aquino, who nurtured the economic gains of the Arroyo administration.

He or she must not deviate from the current economic policies. He or she, instead, must introduce reforms in the economy to attract more foreign investments and, thus, generate jobs, to approximate the levels in Thailand, Malaysia and even Vietnam.

The next president must also decisively respond to the complaints of the public, who has long endured the inefficient mass transportation system and metropolitan traffic, the proliferation of illegal drugs, increasing crime incidents and corruption that remains embedded in major institutions such as the Bureau of Customs, the police and even the judiciary.

The next president would be wasting six years of his entire term if he or she alters the current economic policies. The next leader could revert the current “rising tiger” status of the Philippines back to Asia’s “sick man” if he or she refuses to acknowledge the economic gains of the recent past and improve on them.

Source: The Standard