Member of the Council gathered on 29 November 2017 at North Forbes Park in Makati City for a Political and Economic Risk Briefing organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy together with PNBC. The briefing, which was exclusively for PNBC members, featured two very competent speakers who gave very comprehensive presentations.
On the economy, the 2050 growth projections for the Philippines was presented, which showed the country’s ambition to catch up every decade with Malaysia, Thailand and eventually, South Korea. One of the key factors to drive this is the remittances from overseas workers, which is deemed well-diversified and a big advantage. Also highlighted were the country’s dramatically improved debt-to-GDP ratio, improved sovereign credit ratings, and decreasing cost of capital.
Gross fixed capital formation is also increasing although it was noted that a big chunk of it is from road vehicles. Ease of doing business has also dramatically improved, albeit with a slight drop recently. The Philippines is now ranked 113, and still have a way to go. It was also noted that revenue efforts need to catch up, and hopefully could be relieved by the new tax measures being pursued.
In terms of economic risks, the speakers covered the topics of poverty, high inequality, and the need to crack the elusive code of inclusiveness. Absolute increase in real wages is apparently not felt quite well in the lower income brackets. Political noise and policy incoherence were also discussed, together with security and conflict risks.
The topic of Federalism and the current discussions in the political sphere about “RevGov” were covered in relation to governance challenges. Likewise the matter of political dynasties was discussed. Other topics highlighted were rice self-sufficiency, the Marawi siege and terrorism in general, transportation and traffic challenges, infrastructure boom and Chinese financing, and the current “Build, Build, Build!” program of the administration. Finally, the need to successfully navigate the fourth industrial revolution was discussed.
Regarding political risks, the topics of human rights, corruption, peace and democracy covered, including current trends relating to social media wars, and proliferation of fake news. There were also insights on the 2019 elections, which will include the election for 12 of the 24 seats in the Senate.
It was a very enlightening session and received very positive reviews from the participants. To many PNBC members, it was a very timely event to get a good grasp of what is happening in the economic and political spheres as the year draws to a close.