‘The Philippines is oozing with money’By Cristina DC Pastor
If you heard Dr. Bernie Villegas grinning and raving about the economy during a January 26 investment roadshow at the Philippine Consulate, you’d pack your bags and take the first plane back to the Philippines.
“The Philippines is oozing with money,” said the economist who’s been called “prophet of boom” for his often optimistic outlook for the country.
The money is coming from the remittances of 10 million overseas Filipinos, and a stock market that is performing excellently in Asia, he told an audience of American business executives and prospective investors. “Banks are so liquid. The country is awash with funding,” he said.
All these dramatic improvements are the results of 25 years of “very painful, slow” process of political, financial and social reforms, he told the program organized by the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce and the accounting firm Eisner Amper.
It began with the restoration of democracy and civilian supremacy under Cory Aquino, followed by Fidel Ramos’ deregulation of the telecommunications industry, which laid the groundwork for the breakup of the PLDT monopoly. Joseph Estrada (yes, him) provided farmers with farm-to-market roads and more efficient irrigation system. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo endowed the country with infrastructure. Now, Benigno Aquino III is building on the efforts of Arroyo and the leaders who came before him.
In fact, Villegas back-pedaled to dictator Ferdinand Marcos, saying he was “not all the devil” he’s been portrayed. He was responsible for reducing the country’s dependence on oil and for getting the country to tap alternative sources of energy.
“The HSBC was not practicing geomancy,” said Villegas of the bank’s recent forecast that Manila will be among the Top 20 economies by year 2050 along with China, India and the U.S.
Villegas was predicting 7 percent to 9 percent growth in the next five, 10, 20 years.
Corruption, red tape, natural calamities and grinding poverty in some parts of the country are still around to hinder growth, he said, but maintained, “We can grow 7 percent to 9 percent like China.”
Was it the Black Water Dragon who said something about positive monetary flow?