MANILA – Ayala Land Inc. chair Fernando Zobel de Ayala said that there are three things that the country must do in order to sustain the progress that it has attained – good governance, financial inclusion, and infrastructure investments.
During a recent engagement with the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex), Zobel de Ayala revealed these three pillars and said that there are more things need to support the economic agenda of the country.
“Our major indicators and economic drivers remain solid amid the global slowdown and the political and fundamental headwinds that beset some of our peers in the region,” Zobel de Ayala said.
He added that the country has improved in terms of its competitiveness, however there is still work needed to be done in terms of bureaucracy and improving efficiency, especially for investors and those who would want to start a business.
“Currently, starting a business in the Philippines entails a grueling 15 procedures spanning over 35 days. In contrast, Malaysia only requires three steps spanning six days,” he noted.
Given this, Zobel de Ayala stressed the importance of continuing the structural and governance reforms by the current administration.
“The highest standards of governance must be maintained and reform measures must be continued in the next administration if we want to sustain our growth momentum,” he said.
He added, “Beyond the country’s governance structure, it is likewise imperative that enterprises create and enforce stronger ethical standards in the governance of business. This will go a long way in building investor confidence which, as we all know, translates to tangible benefits such as lower cost of capital, better valuations and ultimately, sustained growth.”
Zobel de Ayala shared that majority of the country’s southeast Asian neighbors made significant strides in corporate governance. This makes the country behind Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
In terms of financial inclusion, the country will not be able to become a progressive country unless the poor will be taken out from poverty.
“It is unacceptable that over 70 percent of Filipinos do not have access to any form of saving or lending mechanisms. It is equally discouraging to note that 40 percent of municipalities in the Philippines do not have any physical access to a bank,” he said.
He added, “It is worth noting that some innovative credit and microfinance solutions are gaining traction, leveraging technology to make basic banking transactions accessible to these segments of the population. But much more needs to be done so that a larger percentage of our population has access to basic financial products and services.”
Meanwhile, he also revealed that the country needs a massive increase in infrastructure expenditure to continue in its growth pace. This will happen if the government will collaborate with organizations.