Monday, September 17, 2012

Increased FDIS

MANILA, Philippines - The report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) of increased FDIs in June of net $72 million (16% higher than last year's) bringing the semester total near $1 billion, higher than last year's $800+ million is a good reason to look at the half full cup of the Philippines as President PNoy would want us to do. Citing the many ''good news'' - moving up in the International Competitiveness ranking, edging up to investment grade, higher than other ASEAN countries in GDP growth rates for the first and second quarters, and even the performance of Philippine students in international moot debate and math competitions - the President voiced his concern during the 75th anniversary symposium of IBM, that there are still Filipinos who would focus on the ''half empty'' cup. The BSP attributed the increased FDIs to the ''subdued inflation environment, strong fiscal performance, and favorable external payments position.'' Prices of goods and services in the basket on which inflation is based on are relatively stable. Of course, when heavy rains fall and roads connecting agricultural areas to urban centers become impassable, there will be temporary price increases due to a changed supply situation. It will be an occasion for the critics to bewail the high cost of living, laying the blame at the foot of Malacañang. It takes the report of a credible and independent institution like BSP to quiet down the contrary views. It emphasizes that any situation should be viewed in its proper context; otherwise we will allow short, nonrecurring events to color our perceptions. The FDIs are being brought in by investors who see in the strong fiscal performance of the Aquino administration an assurance that government programs and projects, especially in infrastructure, will be implemented. As the BIR runs after the non-salaried sector, foreign investors believe that the principles of equality and fair play will remove the ''sacred cows'' that in avoiding paying taxes to government were unfairly competing with them. A favorable external payments position substantiates the still continuing remittances from the overseas workers, still satisfactory export earnings from both products and services and appropriate levels of importations. While it is true that the economies of Europe continue to suffer declines and the Americas are experiencing slow and fragile economic recovery, the continuing outflow of Philippine professionals ensure high levels of remittances. Increased trade with ASEAN and Asian economies should more than compensate any decreases in European and American sales. Programs encouraging energy savings and purchase of locally produce should moderate impo rtation volumes. Beyond the reasons cited by BSP, foreign investors are now drawn to the Philippines because they now expect regularity and predictability in the administration of justice with the impeachment of former Chief Justice Corona and the appointment of Chief Justice Sereno. The release of her SALN which led the other justices to follow suit ushers in a judiciary that will dispense justice with greater moral ascendancy. The relentless pursuit of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the courts as well as others who have been accused of corruption and plunder signals an era of accountability and transparency and assures foreign investors of less corruption in the government bureaucracy. The resignation of Aquino appointees under a cloud of suspected anomaly sets a standard for ethical behavior and ''delicadeza,'' forgotten in the previous dispensation. The foreign investors have seen the half-full cup of the Philippines. Only those who benefited from the Arroyo administration, those whose misdeeds are being brought to light, those who are being levied the right taxes still see the cup as half-empty. Thank goodness, most of the Filipinos see things differently and continue to be supportive of the Aquino administration. Business Bits. With large deposits in their vaults, banks should expand their loan portfolios, concentrating more on project financing focusing on the viability of the venture rather than on collaterals.