After two years in office, President Benigno S. Aquino III told a private-sector led campaign aimed to promote common ethical standards among various sectors in society that his administration’s reform program to re-establish a culture of integrity in government has yielded “real and tangible results.”
In his speech keynoting the 2nd Integrity Summit at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati City on Tuesday, the President said these reforms have allowed the government to bolster funding for infrastructure and social services, which in turn, has propped up the Philippine economic situation to its highest levels.
“Last year I reported to you the inroads that we have achieved in terms of re-establishing a culture of integrity in government: From appointing good people to key posts, reforming our budgeting process, and fostering transparency in our bidding processes; to urging private entities to engage more actively in nation-building through corporate social responsibility and clean, honest, efficient entrepreneurship,” the President said.
He pointed out that because of these reforms implemented since he assumed office, “we have garnered, so far, eight positive credit ratings actions, and two of the three major credit ratings agencies rank us one notch away from investment grade.”
He added that the Philippines now ranks 65th out of 144 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, a first for the country since being included in said report in 1994.
“This comes after two consecutive ten-place jumps in two years-- clearly indicating that we must have been doing the right thing since we came into office,” the President said.
He added that the country’s targeted gross domestic product (GDP), the market value of the goods and services produced by a country, for the entire year is within reach as second quarter figures peg the country’s growth at 5.9 percent, well above the average market forecast of 5.3 percent and the government’s projection of 5 to 6 percent.
The President noted that because of the country’s sterling economic performance, the government has been able to channel these gains into projects and programs that will make the country even more competitive.
“ Our budget for social services has seen a steady, upward trend since we took office: 698.8 billion pesos of the proposed 2 trillion-peso national budget for next year have been allocated towards social services-- 13.9 percent higher than this year's 613.4 billion pesos,” the President said.
“As for infrastructure: As early as June, we have already released 73.66 percent of funds for the year's infrastructure program. That's 151.6 billion pesos out of the 205.8 billion that has been allotted for this year,” he said.
“We have been channeling the budget into investments in our people ---in education, health, poverty alleviation, and infrastructure--- because we recognize that sustaining our economic momentum requires a citizenry that can compete in the global arena,” the President said.
The 2nd Integrity Summit, with the this year’s theme “Driving Culture Change,” gathers experts and authorities to present ways on how to strengthen ethical business practices and institutionalize them so that “business with ethics” becomes the country’s norm, rather than the exception. The event dovetails with the President’s battle cry – “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”
The summit was organized by the Makati Business Club and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, in partnership with the Management Association of the Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce, and the Asian Institute of Management.