Thursday July 19, 2018

Central Luzon 'big factor' in Philippine growth

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Philippine economy will continue to grow, and Central Luzon will play a significant role in helping the country retain its position as Asia's fastest-growing region, BDO Unibank Inc. chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson said.

Sy-Coson, the eldest daughter of the country's business prime mover, Henry Sy, believes that amid global uncertainties, the Philippines is predicted to remain resilient and sustain the momentum.

She spoke during the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PamCham) 57th General Membership Meeting held Friday, October 20, at the LausGroup Event Centre.

"Our country's macroeconomic fundamentals (income, output, taxes and reserves, among others) remain strong. The Philippines is projected to outspace and outperform the rest of the world in terms of growth. Our external debt position remains solid and our FX reserves remain ample relative to imports," Sy-Coson said.

She cited as the main factors in supporting growth the robust overseas workers' remittances, expansion in the business process outsourcing (BPO), and rapid urbanization of the Philippine countryside, particularly Pampanga.

"Moreover, Central Luzon where Pampanga is located is growing faster than the rest of the country, with over 7.2 percent regional real GDP growth from 2011 to 2016. The region is closing its gap with the country's average per capita income. It is catching up with a total average household income of $2,147 dollars as against the country's $2,612 as of the end of 2016," she said.

She added that further upsides will come from infrastructure spending while the development of mass transit systems will facilitate growth of peripheral industries in the region.

"We are anticipating that the expansion of Clark International Airport and the Manila-Clark Railroad Project will spur more development in Pampanga and in the whole Central Luzon, as these projects will help improve the logistics in the region. It will definitely increase export and help uplift the tourism industry," she said.

"And with a more robust export growth and improved trade relationship, the Philippines could emerge as an even stronger economic powerhouse," she added.

She then vowed that BDO Unibank Inc. and SM Investments Corporation will contribute to growth and development of the region, through supporting local businessmen and bringing in more investments.

"As SM, we saw the potential for this region especially Pampanga, when we opened SM City Pampanga years ago. Today, we still believe in the potential of the province, and our soon to open mall in Telabastagan is a testament to that," she noted.

"Furthermore, as BDO, we are committed to help homegrown entrepreneurs and start-up companies, through providing them banking support like loans and insurance. Let us work together," she added.

Sy-Coson also expressed her willingness to help Kapampangans, especially the younger ones, by allowing them to undergo internship programs at SM malls in the province.

She made the statement after Provincial Board Member Anianas Canlas Jr., who was also present during the meeting, requested for a human resource development partnership between the local government and SM.

For his part, PamCham Chairman Emeritus Levy P. Laus said that human capital development is one of the major advocacies of the chamber, and the announcement made by Sy-Coson is valuable for PamCham.

"We are very glad that SM supports our mission to develop and train our young people. As you know, we are very much committed to molding highly-skilled and talented Kapampangans. It is the same reason why we sponsored students today. We want to immerse them as early as now with the business community here in Pampanga," he said.