Saturday, October 25, 2014
PNoy Administration Vows to Redouble Efforts in It's Last 2 Minutes in Power
The current administration will redouble its efforts in sustaining the country’s economic resurgence, while the Cabinet now has opened a direct line for urgent concerns of the business sector, President Aquino told a gathering of businessmen at the Manila Hotel yesterday.
Addressing the 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo, the President said Cabinet members are now “duty-bound” to step up their efforts and be “more receptive” to the public after signing their performance contracts, where they committed to “redouble” public service and sustain the country’s economic resurgence in the last two-minutes of his term.
“Just a couple of days ago, I presided over a small ceremony in Malacañang involving the heads of various government departments and agencies. It was an event where we concretized our commitment to redouble our efforts in the so-called last two minutes of our term: toward maximizing our service to the public, which, of course, includes business and industry,” the President said during the Manila Hotel conference.
“I thought it might interest you to know this; since they have signed their contracts, the members of my Cabinet are now duty-bound to be even more receptive to all of you. Thus, please feel free to call them anytime,” Aquino added.
Last Tuesday, the Cabinet members signed the performance contracts that will gauge if they are meeting targets of government programs within their jurisdiction. The performance contract scheme was implemented as part of the administration’s reforms to promote accountability and good governance.
The President, in his speech before the business community, took pride of the country’s positive transformation amid his reforms on good governance and fiscal management, citing that the “Philippine brand has recaptured the attention of the world.”
Aquino also gave credit to the private sector for its “invaluable role” in the “resurgence of the Philippines.”
“Without the innovation it takes to nurture the growth of businesses, without your support for our reform agenda, and without your confidence in the Filipino people, we certainly would not have been able to come so far along the straight path to progress,” Aquino said.
“I know we can make even greater strides, as long as we are able to create deeper, more dynamic, more impactful synergies between industries and government,” he added.
Aquino also highlighted the results of his administration’s reform agenda “to turn the tide in the Philippines” in the past four years and three months.
“Reforms in key systems and processes have led to leaks being plugged and resources being maximized; more contractors and investors are not only registering interest in infrastructure projects, but are competing to build what we need,” he said.
He said the Philippines is now ranked investment grade and continues to climb global competitiveness rankings.
The local economy also remains “strong” with growth at 6.4 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to the President.
“Even more good news, the first half of 2014 attracted net foreign direct investments of $3.57 billion, almost 80 percent higher than the FDI recorded in the same period in 2013,” he added.
He said the manufacturing sector has also rebounded with 8.8 percent growth in the first half of 2014, and exports are up.
“All our successes reaffirm these basic truths: Integrity works, reform works, and the Philippines works,” he said.
At the same gathering, President Aquino said the government is moving to boost the country’s energy security and ease port congestion but underscored the need for the help of the private sector to effectively address these twin economic obstacles.
The President assured that both efforts to reform the power industry as well as decongest the Manila ports are “still a work in progress.”
The two economic concerns were included in the resolution presented by business community to the President during the forum.
Amid the imminent shortage in power reserves next year, the President recognized the need to change the “business model” of the power industry in a bid to ensue sustainable energy in the country.
Aquino lamented that the present setup of the power sector does not foster new investments.
“For instance, even before groundbreaking, plants have typically sold all of their output. I know of no other business or industry that has already sold its goods that have yet to be produced in a facility that has yet to be constructed. That, of course, is not an ideal situation,” the President said.
“Just-in-time supplies of energy do not engender more investments. Therefore, there is a need to change the business model, and that is also a work in progress,” Aquino added.
Aquino grabbed the occasion to appeal to the business sector to invest in the power industry.
“These kinds of plants are what our Department of Energy calls merchant power producers; and we hope that more investors will follow suit and will seek ways and means to encourage more in following their track,” he added.
On another business concern, the President said the issue of port congestion has been “a paramount concern” of the administration since the truck ban. Aquino said he was aware how port congestion has affected, and can affect, the conduct of business in the country.
So far, the President told the business community that there has been “some improvement” in easing port congestion amid the use of Subic and Batangas ports as temporary extensions of the Port of Manila as well as intensified operations against hijackers.
Aquino, however, admitted that the situation is “far more complex” as he called on the private sector to do its part in decongesting the trading hubs.
“We have already seen some improvement: for the Port of Batangas alone, for instance, utilization is up to 94 percent this October. Compare this to its previous utilization rate of only 20 to 25 percent before we encouraged importers and exporters to shift to the Batangas port. Ship calls at Batangas have likewise increased from two to five ships per week,” he said.
“In light of this, some might say that we can cross that off the to-do list, but in reality, the situation is far more complex,” he added.
Aquino said diverting traffic to Subic and Batangas is only a short-term solution, saying the high use of these two ports might only transfer the congestion problem experienced in the Manila port.
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