MANILA, Philippines - Filipino businessmen are bullish about the prospects of the Philippine economy in 2013.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), an organization of more than 30,000 enterprises, expects the Philippine economy to continue its strong performance next year.
"The (Philippine) economy in 2012 has shown resiliency and strength amidst the economic crisis in Europe and territorial disputes in the region, this is mainly due to our government’s effective fiscal management policies which created a stronger than expected investors’ interest in the Philippines. Now is the perfect time to pursue more reforms and start developing our domestic industries considering two important events are happening during the first half of 2013, the start of Obama’s second term in the office and our mid-term elections," PCCI President Miguel Varela said in a statement.
Varela said investors are keeping a close eye on Obama's programs to revive the US economy, especially since the Philippines is heavily dependent on the US.
"Given that President Obama is given a fresh mandate to address their economic problems, we also need to ensure that our economy overall and domestic industries are well positioned to absorb possible impact of US policies (both the negative and positive), especially the ones that rely heavily on the US market such as business process outsourcing (BPOs), electronics, garments, etc.," he said.
However, the PCCI urged the government to make sure its policies are "investor-friendly" and "business-friendly."
"Our policies whether elicited by the national government or reinforced by the local governments should speak of one message: 'business-friendly.' One setback we experienced in 2012 is the conflicting interpretation of policies or laws that caused significant losses to investors—take the case of the mining industry and the oil depots in Manila. This should change if we want to continue to grow," Varela said.
The PCCI president also said the government should benchmark the Philippines' performance with its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
"Take the case of Thailand, which has implemented strong and effective Investment Incentives Packages since the flooding in Bangkok a year ago, or Malaysia and Vietnam for that matter. We need to use these kinds of information to find out what we have in our menu and if we are able to lure the investors’ appetite." he said.
PCCI also emphasized the need for government programs to revive the country's industrial sector. This includes
infrastructure, incentives and market linkages in the agriculture sector, as well as more public private partnership projects
"We need to revive our domestic industries and support agriculture industries. Thus, PPP projects will continue to remain crucial in implementing our development programs. The right mix of policies will be critical given the developments that will transpire locally, regionally and globally during the first half of 2013. Overall, we see no reason to doubt that we will surpass our current growth mark — we definitely will — the question is: 'Is a 6% growth enough to generate sufficient jobs and translate these jobs to higher quality standard of living for the working class?'," the PCCI said.
In 2013, the government is targeting economic growth of between 5.5 to 6.5%. The World Bank earlier said the Philippines could grow by 6.2% next year.