More good news for the Philippines, as recognition of our efforts for equitable progress—and to maintain newfound investor confidence—comes our way. We’ve got three articles to share with you today, all singing praises for our country.
The Business English Index 2012 Report
An infographic for all our country’s lovers of—and, apparently, experts at—Business English. GlobalEnglish has ranked the Philippines at the top of the Business English Index (BEI), which tracks “competency across companies, industries, and geographies in business communications using English.” [Click here to view the BEI 2012 report, including the infographic above.]
This has been the second year that the Philippines has appeared at the top of the list—we’re that distinctive green marker on the world map above. Our score of 7.11 puts us on the BEI’s Intermediate Level of Proficiency, which GlobalEnglish has translated to a collective ability to “take an active role in business discussions and perform relatively complex tasks.”
According to the Business English Index 2012 Report, “Global employees’ ability to communicate in Business English has quickly become the most critical factor in determining which companies, countries, and industry sectors may fare best during the years ahead.” It noted that the Philippines’ having attained a score above 7.0 is an affirmation of World Bank’s latest GDP data, which reports on the vast improvements of our economy.
It, too, bears pointing out that our overwhelming lead in the BEI list puts our Business English speakers far ahead of nations whose first language is English.
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“Southeast Asia’s llama breaks into a trot”
David Pilling of the Financial Times points out the indications that our country has “turned a corner,” a marked contrast to its status in the global economy of the years past. From a dolefully trudging llama, Pilling says, into a llama that has gone trotting. We’re happy to take the moniker, especially with the string of commendations, albeit tempered (and rightfully so), that follow:
“First, the external position has improved dramatically,” Pilling says. “The Philippines, after years of indebtedness, is a net creditor. Overseas remittances from the roughly 8M Filipinos working abroad have steadily added to foreign exchange reserves. At nearly $80B, these are higher than the external debt.” Pilling further notes that with remittances, “The Philippines is emerging as a solution to the labor shortages of mature economies the world over.” He also cites the “Philippine call-centers” which have “grown exponentially, trumping those in India. Revenues from back office businesses have quintupled over six years from $2B to $11B.”
The second reason for us to hope, according to Pilling: “the country is getting its fiscal house in order. The deficit has narrowed from a worrying 5-6 percent a decade ago to a manageable 2 percent. The tax net was widened under the previous administration, though the tax take remains at a lowly 13.5 percent of GDP. Spending has been kept in check. Subsidies on fuel and power, the bane of many Asian finance ministers, were scrapped several years ago.”
Pilling also points out improvements in the Philippine political situation. “Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino, elected president in 2010, has made a creditable start. For one, his government has sent out a strong message that it will not tolerate corruption (a distinct change from past governments, which actively encouraged it).”
The Aquino government has also taken steps to restore rice self-sufficiency after the country was forced to import a fifth of its needs in 2008. It has established public-private partnerships to build the roads, railways and power stations that have failed to keep pace with an exploding population. Progress has been slow, but the legal regime is considered solid. Many economists are predicting a private investment boom, predicated on favourable demographics – half of Filipinos are under 25 – and the healthiest banking system in south-east Asia.
Reputations are hard to shake. For many, the Philippines remains a basket case. But that view lags behind reality. In 2010, the economy grew at 7.6 per cent – faster than Indonesia, Asia’s investment darling. Growth has slowed, but it has cleared 4-5 per cent every year since 2006, apart from in post-Lehman 2009.
Markets have not been oblivious. Last year, the Philippines stock market was the world’s seventh-best performing. In the year to date, the Philippine exchange is up more than 20 per cent, among the world’s top 10 performers.
We note that the essence of Pilling’s article is a near-perfect parallel of President Aquino’s speech during the 17th Anniversary of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. And we are as happy to note that the article excerpted above, as well as the rest of the articles we share today, augurs well for the 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that begins today and which shall last until the 5th of May.
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In the article “Can Benigno Aquino Eliminate Corruption in the Philippines?” from Institutional Investor, Asian Development Bank’s Chief Economist Changyong Rhee—also the chief spokesperson for ADB on economic forecasts and trends, and oversees the Economics and Research Department—“applauds Aquino’s focus on cleaning up government:”
“Investors have responded favorably to the government’s reformist agenda, particularly its vigorous anti-corruption initiatives,” says Rhee. “Since 2010 private investments have picked up and contributed to GDP growth, alongside robust consumer spending backed by remittance inflows.”
The article goes on to say, “It would be a welcome sign of change, indeed, for the Philippines to institutionalize good governance. The personalization of politics has thwarted the country’s development repeatedly in the past. For better or words, however, Aquino today still embodies the hopes of a nation.”
We urge readers to view the Institutional Investor article, as it realistically enumerates challenges the Philippines has faced in the past and now currently stands up against—as well as offers reasons for sustained optimism and pathways to progress, through key people in Philippine society and government.