Philippines tries to match promises with delivery
Long overdue fiscal prudence and a rising economic tide have presented the Philippines with its best chance in decades for sustainable economic growth. Chris Leahy reports.
IT IS LUNCHTIME at the Department of Budget and Management and everywhere, staff tuck into their lunchboxes with evident relish. Everyone that is except the department head, secretary Rolando Andaya. Pulling on another cigarette, he listens intently to a local official’s entreaty for more funds to rebuild his barangay’s (parish) school, destroyed in a fire. The supplicant is not alone: the line of local lobbyists snakes out of Andaya’s office and into the corridors of the dilapidated office building.
"It’s pretty much like this every day of the week," says Andaya, "but it’s election time now so everyone wants to see me."
"We’re going to need a lot of help from the private sector, and we need to send them the right signals: that government will get out of business" Gary Teves, finance secretary
There is much to talk about. The Philippines has suffered more than a decade of under-investment by a government strapped for cash and struggling to meet its international debt obligations, and it shows.