East Asia needs to address infrastructure problems

by Fidea Encarnacion, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 22 2014 01:21 PM | Updated as of May 22 2014 09:21 PM

From left, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, CNBC host Martin Soong, Indonesia's Finance Minister Muhamad Chatib Basri and First Eastern Investment Group chairman and CEO Victor Chu participate in the “East Asia Economic Outlook” session at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, Makati, Thursday. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Infrastructure is a key concern among officials from East Asian countries.

During the “East Asia Economic Outlook” session at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said the Philippines' main concern remains to be infrastructure.

"It’s something we need to work on. We need to do many things [like] invest in infrastructure," he said.

In order to achieve this, Purisima emphasized good governance to eliminate corruption and problems in bureaucracy.

“Governance is I think the most important ingredient… [but] corruption, bureaucracy is a challenge," he added.

Muhamad Chatib Basri, Indonesia's Minister of Finance, agreed, saying his country is also facing challenges on infrastructure. He said there should be moves to improve quality of human resources in order to have a growing economy.

“(It is) not enough to focus on the cycle —I agree with what Cesar said. Indonesia is critical with infrastructure…especially land procuring," Basri said.

“(On) quality of human resources, (we) can’t rely on natural resources and cheap labor… (but must) move to knowledge-based economy," he added.

Basri noted other Asian countries also face problems of inequality and urbanization.

Victor L. L. Chu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong's First Eastern Investment Group, said that the problems identified are similar to all countries in the region.

“China too has a similar problem [and] regionally, agenda is really similar," Chu said.

Blockages need to be identified and ways to solve them must be addressed.

Lee Il-Houng, Ambassador for International Cooperation and G20 Sherpa, Republic of Korea, added that aside from improvement in inclusive growth and investing in infrastructure, there is a need to review and overhaul the system to fully address the issue.

"[There is a need for] income and equality, but we need a system of review and overhaul to address the issues," Lee said.

More govt support sought

Meanwhile, Anthony F. Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Malaysia, said there should be improved communication between the private sector and government.

With the availability of a large market in East Asia, he said that there is a lot that private industries can work on.

"Government must give [support] to the private sector… Policy makers engage in private industries more [but] communication has got to grow between the government and the private sector," he said.

Fernandes said that there is potential for ASEAN businesses to grow if barriers hindering that are dismantled. This will lead to better relations and businesses with other countries.