JP Morgan reactivates program to attract investors to Philippines

May. 17, 2007

MANILA — JP Morgan, one of the worlds top financial services firms with global assets of $1.4 trillion, has reactivated Philippine Corporate Access Days (PCAD), ending a seven-year hiatus in the program to draw more overseas investments into the country.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who keynoted the event dubbed as PCADs “coming back to the Philippines” held this morning at the Rizal Ballroom of the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, hailed the revival of the JP Morgans program as yet another proof of renewed investor confidence in the countrys resurgent economy.

PCAD operations, which seek to provide access to potential investors to more than 30 Philippine corporations, were shelved in 2000.

In her speech, the President said this renewed interest in the Philippines was borne out by the new level of maturity that the economy has reached and which has led to the country being the “best value in Asia today.”

She also stressed that the holding last Monday of a “peaceful, fair and free elections” further boosted the political stability of the country and the economic reforms instituted by her administration.

“Last Monday, Filipinos demonstrated our political stability in peaceful, fair and free elections,” the President said, adding, “The national elections are just starting their count but in the congressional and local elections, the victory of the overwhelming majority of candidates sympathetic to the administration shows a vote for political stability and economic reform.”

“The results will be a focus by our administration on continued economic reform: pro-growth, pro-trade and pro-investment strategies that help lift up our people from poverty and helping the Philippines finally in the contention as a real investment destination,” she said.

The Chief Executive also pointed out her administration’s “hard-fought economic reform battles that we have led with some courageous members of Congress (has resulted in) the Philippine economy’s finally breaking loose from its historic legacy of lethargy.”

“The biggest single act that led to the surge in our economy was the passage of our (Expanded) Value Added Tax (Law). In one bold stroke, it raised enormous revenue. It also sent an unmistakable signal that we’re serious about moving the nation forward,” the President said.

“New revenues, better collection of revenues and a crackdown on tax cheats, along with fiscal discipline, have put the Philippines on a path to permanent economic growth and stability,” she added.

“And your (JP Morgan) coming back here shows that the world is taking notice. I will repeat that I believe that the Philippines is one of the best values in Asia for domestic and foreign investors,” the President said.

The President said that fiscal discipline, a balanced budget and the need for long overdue human and physical infrastructure improvements, and investments help round out the governments economic gain.

All these “sacrifices” have led to a strong peso, low inflation, a robust stock market, rapid inflows of foreign investments and almost six million jobs in the last six years, she said.

She assured that the government will increase investments in human and physical infrastructures to the tune of “billions of pesos in education, healthcare and training along with the construction of new bridges, roads and ports to upgrade the competitiveness of the Philippines.”

“We take pride in the discipline of our administration to focus on the economy and our overall economic health. We’re proud of the fact that we are pre-paying external debts, optimistic that we will soon balance the budget and we’re making sure to use the gains to invest in vital social and economic needs,” the President said.

She also cited various investment opportunities in Mindanao and the steps being taken by the government to promote permanent peace in the area.

“We have developed a new paradigm for peace: our Philippine model for dealing with the flashpoint area of Mindanao has focused on a unique combination of soft and hard power to promote peace,” the President said.

She added that through a combination of soft and hard power, “we will be able to weld together confidence-building measures grounded on strong interfaith dialogue and cultural awareness, investments in economic and basic infrastructure development and mutual security arrangements to keep the peace in Mindanao.”

The President also said that a “broad-based coalition” consisting of the United States, and nations from across the spectrum including Sweden, the European Union, Japan, Malaysia, Libya and other Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) members “is working to keep the peace and isolate genuine security threats and promote the economic well-being of Muslims and Christian residents of Mindanao.”

“This is a model setting a positive example. It is something we all wish to share with the rest of the world,” she said.

“It will lead to a permanent peace in Mindanao,” she added.

The President urged investors to take a serious look at Mindanao and its vast potentials as investment hub south of Metro Manila.

“In Mindanao and the whole Philippines, the short answer to continuing the economic growth is summed up in three words: Invest, Invest, Invest,” she said. (OPS)

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