By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — While there remain serious challenges ahead for the next administration, Senator Sonny Angara is confident the Philippines will be able to sustain its path towards recovery and even emerge stronger with the support of its people.
Just like what took place in previous administrations whenever there was a change in power, Angara said the key to success is to build on the gains made by its predecessors and to come up with strong policies that will move the country forward in the coming years.
“The good news is that our economic policies don’t really change. In the past three administrations, difficult fiscal reforms were introduced in order to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of our people,” Angara said in his address before the Harvard OPM Club of the Philippines.
From the time when about one-third of the country’s budget was set aside to paying the interest of its debts, Angara noted that it is down to 10 to 15 percent and the interest rates have gone down to its lowest levels.
“Those fiscal reforms set the basis for the investments that the government had to make over the last two decades; investments in education, investments in health, investments in infrastructure. I have seen how things have improved,” Angara said.
For instance, in the field of education, Angara noted how the current administration was able to pass the law guaranteeing free education to students enrolled in the state universities and colleges even though this would cost a lot for the government because it was an investment that had to be made.
Angara argued that the tough decisions, while highly unpopular, had to be made and the results can be seen clearly in the way the economy has continued to grow over the past three administrations.
“During the time of PGMA, we had four to five percent GDP growth, then it was six to seven percent during the time of PNoy that was sustained over six years. Then you have President Duterte almost hitting eight percent, pre-pandemic,” Angara said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty, there’s a lot of gloom and doom. There are definitely clouds on the horizon, but if we have a skillful pilot who can steer us on course, we’ll be good. The Philippines is going to be okay and there’s a chance that we might even be better,” Angara added.
In the next six years and beyond, Angara said there is a window of potential for the country that must be tapped with some urgency because the population will start to age within the next two decades.
He said the investments in education and health become even more crucial in order to help in the development of the people.
This he said must be coupled with a commitment to address the brain drain that continues to hound the country.
Over the past few years, Angara has been actively working with the different government agencies and the private sector to address this problem through his “Tatak Pinoy” advocacy.
Among the objectives of Tatak Pinoy is to come up with ways to make the goods produced by the country more complex so that more opportunities will open up for Filipinos.
Angara noted how many foreign companies are already noticing the potential of the Philippine workforce based on its capability to produce a variety of products that are considered complex.
It is the dream of Angara that the day will come when more opportunities open up in the country so that Filipinos would no longer have to go abroad for employment. (ai/mtvn)