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Manila plots its next move forward

GDP growth in the Philippines almost halved last year, with natural disasters hitting exports and domestic agricultural output. But the government and central bank remain optimistic. The service sector is robust and the promise of new lucrative private-public partnerships means investors are primed to spend.

The Philippine International Convention Centre in Manila is buzzing. Hundreds of people have turned up for the Philippine Economic Briefing in Intramuros, the oldest part and the historical hub of the capital city, to hear why the economic future is bright.

The Philippines has decided that good governance is something it can sell. Since the election of the popular and charismatic President Benigno Aquino III in 2010, the government has proclaimed its dedication to fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, promising to turn the Philippines from a corrupt and inefficient economy into a sustainable, successful and inclusive one. This particular economic briefing is designed to tell the audience that they are on the right track.

Every speaker touches on how commitment to good governance by the Aquino administration is bearing fruit. The government has shown renewed vigour for collecting taxes and applying administrative reforms to tackle tax evasion, smuggling and corruption in government agencies.

In 2011, the administration realized a 13% increase in revenues – the highest in 10 years. This was achieved without introducing new taxes and without the sale of government assets. The hefty increase in revenues and the savings generated from debt serviced in 2011 mean that the government’s deficit is now P197.8

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