VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Mabuhay) –– Citing the importance of a reinforced Asia-Europe economic partnership, President Benigno S. Aquino III called for enhanced economic ties between Asia and Europe, saying that it is to the mutual benefit of the two regions.
The Chief Executive made the statement during the First Session of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM9) hosted by Lao People’s Democratic Republic under the theme, “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity.” This is the first time President Aquino attended the ASEM Summit since he assumed office in June 2010.
“Excellencies, Asia and Europe are both in a defining juncture in their respective development narratives. And it is to the mutual benefit of our two regions that we further strengthen our economic relations. Asia needs Europe to realize its projected future of broad-based prosperity, just as Europe needs Asia to hasten its long-term economic recovery,” the President said.
“A reinforced Asia-Europe economic partnership, founded on the principles of equality and mutual respect, is therefore imperative,” he stressed.
During his speech before the ASEM9 plenary session, President Aquino highlighted the accomplishments of the Philippines in good governance and inclusive growth over the past two years.
“The Philippines cannot claim to have all the solutions, but perhaps I can share with you a few early lessons we have learned in our pursuit of inclusive growth in our country,” he said. “The overarching strategy we have implemented these past two years has been simple – Good governance means good economics. Our management efforts reflect a single national vision. By eliminating waste, we maximize our gains, and by so doing increase our people’s chances to improve their lot in life.”
“This principle is seen in the zero-based budgeting system which we have instituted. The goal is clear – to ascertain that every peso used for projects and programs is truly for the benefit of our countrymen. Moreover, by cracking down on tax evasion, smuggling, and money laundering, we have increased government revenues,” he further said.
Based on the latest report, the Philippine government’s revenues have increased by 10 percent in the first three quarters of 2012, the President said.
“These initiatives, among many others, have given us the wherewithal to invest even more in our people through social safety nets, which is all the more vital in today’s world, given that the turmoil in the West was caused, in part, by growing inequality,” he said.
He also cited the expansion of the administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program to cover 3.1 million Filipino households this year. Under the CCT program, the President explained, the beneficiary-families get cash stipends provided that their children are sent to school, and pregnant mothers and their children are receiving regular medical check-ups.
President Aquino noted that his administration has also been able to expand the services available to those who subscribed to the national health insurance program.
“Such programs work as a safety valve, making certain that tensions between the have and the have-nots do not boil over,” he said. “They show our countrymen that growth is not won just by one sector. It is achieved as one nation,” he stressed.
According to the President, his government’s “efficient and inclusive approach to governance” has redounded to a great number of economic gains and international distinctions, including the 6.1 percent GDP growth in the first semester of 2012, which is higher than the five to six percent forecast.
He also cited the 2012 report of Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, where the Philippines is projected to be the sixth fastest growing economy in the world for the period between 2010 and 2050.
“Excellencies, by staying true to the spirit of honesty, transparency, and inclusiveness, the Philippines has not merely weathered the economic storm, we have navigated into calm waters. We have reclaimed the confidence of our people and of the international community,” the President said.
“However, in an interconnected world, we must resist the temptation to be inward-looking. If any of us are to make even more progress on the economic front, we need a dynamic global economy that continues to facilitate inter and intra-regional trade and investment flows,” he added.
The President also said that it would also be “highly beneficial” to both regions—Asia and Europe—if “our governments take it as their duty to make certain that whatever progress is made, is also felt equitably by every last one of their citizens.” (MNS)