Reforms needed to see RP through global downturn — Arroyo

BusinessWorld

Posted at Feb 01 2009 10:04 AM | Updated as of Feb 01 2009 06:04 PM

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday said "radical" economic change was needed to allow the Philippines to better cope with the global economic downturn.

She issued the call in a speech in Palayan, Nueva Ecija, but did not provide specifics other than calls for more efficient global trade, reducing protectionism, and regulatory reforms.

"Those who are saying that radical changes should take place ... they are correct.

We have to make sure that these will benefit the poor," Mrs. Arroyo said.

She said fundamental reforms in the regulatory systems have to be implemented immediately, adding that developing nation such as the Philippines included should also learn to stand on their own.

"They (rich countries) have fallen but we're still standing. The lesson here is to become self-sufficient," she said.

At the same time, Mrs. Arroyo said "Let's not close our doors ... If we don't engage in free trade, world economies will shrink. That's what happened during the Great Depression."

She reiterated claims that the Philippines was relatively spared from the meltdown due to reforms her administration had implemented.

"We took our economic medicine years ago through fundamental economic reforms that included raising taxes, cutting down on smuggling, and reforming our banking laws. But we can't be complacent," she said.

"We recognize that our success is tied to the success of other nations, particularly the rich ones. We likewise recognize that a partial solution to this crisis lies on greater regional cooperation."