MANILA - President Aquino on Monday said better governance under his administration has led to significant gains in the Philippine economy.
In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), his second to the last, Aquino said his administration has expanded its services for citizens, without raising any taxes except for sin taxes.
"Nakatipid tayo dahil sa maayos na pangangasiwa ng pondo, napapalawak natin ang saklaw ng serbisyo ng di nagtataas ng buwis maliban sa sin tax reform na ang layunin ay ibsan ang bisyo sa lipunan," he said, referring to the sin tax reform law which took effect last year.
For instance, tax collection surged to P1.536 trillion in 2013, from P1.094 trillion in 2010.
"Pina-igting pa natin ang pangongolekta ng buwis... Inaayos natin ang pamamahala ng ating mga utang. Ang resulta, bumaba ang debt to GDP ratio, ang perang dating dapat ibinabayad sa interes ay napupunta na sa social services. Pati ang mga obligasyon ng minana lang, tinugunan natin," he said.
One of these obligations was the recapitalization of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The New Central Bank Act of 1993 mandated a P50 billion recapitalization program for the BSP.
"Ang napondohan ni Presidente Ramos ay P10 billion at di na nadagdagan na pagkatapos nito. P40 billion ang kakulangan at nabayaran na po natin ito," he said.
Senators earlier raised the issue why P30 billion in funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went to the BSP.
Aquino also highlighted the fact that the Philippines received its first-ever investment grade rating in 2013, from the top three credit rating agencies - Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch.
"Sa kanilang pagsusuri ng macroeconomic fundamentals at governance, nabawasan ang risk na naitatala kaya tumingkad ang kumpiyansa ng mga namumuhunan... Dahil investment grade na tayo, mas murang mahihiram ng gobyerno ang pondo para sa mga programa at proyekto," he said.
The investment grade rating also helped attract more investors to the Philippines, with the impact felt by more Filipinos, the President said.
Aquino noted that 42 percent of approved investments at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) came in during his administration, while 58 percent of approved investments came in during the previous 15 years.
"Kumpiyansa tayo, bago tayo bumaba sa puwesto, mapapantayan or mahihigitan natin ang halagang ito," he said.
ECONOMY TAKING OFF
"Talagang pa-take off na ang ekonomiya at bansa," Aquino stressed.
In the aviation industry, the President noted the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) lifted last year the Significant Safety Concerns (SSC) it issued on the Philippines 5 years ago. This allowed Philippine Airlines to fly to London once again.
Aquino also cited the US Federal Aviation Administration's restoration of the Category 1 status of the local commercial aviation industry this year, which meant Philippine carriers can add flights to the US.
"Dumarating sa atin ang mga ulat na sa dami ng mga gustong bumisita sa atin na negosyante at turista, dumarating ang panahon na kulang na ang mga flights na papunta rito, Magandang balita po ang mga upgrade, dadami ang biyahe," he said.
The Philippines' hosting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia last May, and the upcoming APEC Summit next year was also mentioned by the President.
"Walang duda, more open for business na nga po ang Pilipinas," he said.
Aquino also noted that since 2010, the number of strikes reported by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board has fallen below 10.
"Ang maganda, sa 115 notices of strike in 2013, isa lang ang natuloy na welga, ito ang pinakamababa sa kasaysayan ng DOLE," he said, citing the efforts of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and the labor and management sectors.