CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur – In a resounding vote of confidence, a distinguished business leader has expressed unwavering optimism regarding the Philippines’ ability to attain a six percent economic growth rate in 2023, defying global economic headwinds.
Ambassador Francis Chua, the esteemed chairperson of the Bank of Commerce, has emphasized that the concerted investment promotion initiatives spearheaded by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., complemented by the astute economic stewardship of Finance Secretary Ben Diokno and the proficient oversight of Bangko Sentral Gov. Eli Remolona Jr., will be pivotal in contributing to the projected economic upswing this year.
Chua, a luminary in the Philippine business landscape, holding prestigious positions such as Chairperson Emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Honorary President of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), and Director at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), articulated his bullish outlook during the recent Pandesal Forum at Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City, convened on Saturday, September 30. His sentiments resonated strongly with National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balicasan, who has asserted that the Philippines could still achieve an economic growth rate ranging between six to seven percent, particularly if government expenditure gains momentum in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
Chua underscored his belief in the sustainability of robust revenue streams derived from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the thriving Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, and the Philippines’ export industries, notably the mining sector. To bolster economic growth, he urged the nation to intensify its investments and broaden the horizons of export-oriented industries.
Furthermore, Chua conveyed his sanguine expectations regarding the continued warmth in bilateral relations and robust economic cooperation between the Philippines and its foremost trading partner, China, despite recent frictions in territorial disputes. In an anecdote from a recent social event, he revealed that Chinese Ambassador to Manila, Huang Xilian, had assured him of China’s enduring appetite as a substantial market for Philippine agricultural exports, including bananas, mangoes, and durian.
In a spirited advocacy for the future of Philippine agriculture, Chua asserted that both the private sector and government should accord utmost priority to the welfare and improved livelihood opportunities for the nation’s farmers. He emphasized the need for unity across all segments of society to rally behind government initiatives and reforms aimed at fortifying the Philippine economy and generating employment opportunities.
Chua implored, “I appeal to all sectors to set aside political differences, conflicts, and negative sentiments and unite in concerted efforts to fortify Philippine economic development and foster harmonious relations with all our neighbors, be it Singapore, ASEAN, China, or any other nation.”
He further asserted, “Our banking system in the Philippines stands as a testament to our economic strength and resilience, even surpassing the robustness of the American banking system, owing to our burgeoning economy and the vigilant oversight of the Bangko Sentral and the Finance Department.”
Chua cited noteworthy instances of private sector confidence in the Philippine economic growth trajectory, citing the ambitious infrastructure and industrial projects spearheaded by San Miguel Corp. CEO Ramon Ang. Notably, the ongoing construction of the new Manila International Airport in Bulacan, a project of immense scale and significance.
In a bid to accelerate the nation’s economic development, Chua floated a visionary proposal for the implementation of a high-speed railway project, spanning from Aparri in Northern Luzon, traversing through Cebu, all the way to Davao in Mindanao. This proposal drew inspiration from the successful modern railway projects undertaken by China in ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Laos. A standout example is the 142-kilometer Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train, with plans for an extensive expansion spanning over 700 kilometers across Java Island to Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya. Another landmark project is the 1,035-kilometer China-Laos Railway, connecting Kunming City to Vientiane City.
Ambassador Francis Chua’s unwavering optimism, grounded in his profound belief in the Philippines’ potential and his visionary proposals for economic development, underscores a prevailing sentiment of hope and determination within the nation’s business and economic circles. The path to a six percent economic growth in 2023 is paved with resilience, collaboration, and strategic foresight.
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