Cebu business sector upbeat

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva October 08,2016 - 09:44 PM
Philippine stock Exchange  (AP FILE)

Philippine stock Exchange

While Bloomberg reported that investors in the Philippines were giving President Rodrigo Duterte “the worst reception for a new president in almost two decades” after a “tumultuous first 100 days,” Cebu business leaders believe it is too early to rate Duterte’s performance.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Glenn Soco said President Duterte’s first 100 days are just the “brewing stage” for instituting real reforms.

For Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Melanie Ng, what is needed is for everyone in government to do their share in moving the country forward, as President Duterte faces overwhelming pressure to meet his goal of eliminating the drug menace within six months to a year.

Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) Cebu Executive Director Federico Escalona, for his part, gave Duterte a perfect rating (5 out of 5) for his drug war but gave him a two on efforts to solve corruption and one on traffic solutions.

Escalona explained that Duterte was still just “touching the surface” in the fight against corruption as this comes only second to his antidrug campaign.

Government was also still focused on solving Metro Manila’s traffic woes for now, Escalona noted.

The Cebu business leaders, however, agreed that although he may not have fared well in all areas, the President has already set a “strong message for change” in his first 100 days.

“If there is one thing this administration achieved, it is stability in ensuring a smooth transition from the past administration, thereby sustaining our growth momentum and business confidence,” MCCI’s Soco told Cebu Daily News.

Duterte began his six-year term noontime of June 30 this year, after having been voted president by 16 million Filipinos earlier in May.

From a holistic perspective, Soco said it would be premature to give a rating on the Duterte administration primarily because there are certain things that need time to be resolved like traffic and flooding.

But Soco believed Duterte has made some headway in lessening corruption and red tape in government.

Improvements in airports and some government agencies are also being undertaken, noted Soco.

The entrance of the Mactan Economic Zone 1 in Lapu-Lapu City. CDN FILE PHOTO

The entrance of the Mactan Economic Zone 1 in Lapu-Lapu City.

Above average

Soco also gave a thumbs up on the administration’s drive against drugs and criminality giving it an “above average” rating.

“There is lesser crime on the streets, and the drug problem has been suppressed dramatically,” said the Mandaue chamber head.

This would result in a more productive workforce and a well-balanced community, Soco added.

Over at CCCI, Ng pointed out that Duterte has been so focused on his war against drugs, although this is not the only aspect in nation building that needs the President’s attention.

“I do hope that we will see remarkable progress on his 10-point agenda in the months to come,” said Ng.

The chamber leader also urged the President to exhort all Cabinet members to achieve the goals set in his 10-point agenda.

CCCI also hopes that the national government will approve and mobilize projects that will solve Cebu’s traffic and flooding problems.

“We look forward to concrete steps taken to establish the positive change that was promised,” Ng said.

Just perfect

Meanwhile, in giving Duterte a perfect rating in the fight against drugs, Philexport’s Escalona cited the recent national crime statistics.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa had earlier reported that the number of crimes recorded across the country dropped by about 49 percent last month compared to the same period last year.

“This only goes to show that most of these crimes that are happening in our communities are drug related. That’s why when we focused our resources and attention on the drug problem, crimes also dropped,” Dela Rosa had said in a speech before hundreds of police officers.

“On economics, we have yet to wait for the growth figures for the second quarter. For investments, we haven’t heard of major concrete deals yet although China could come in with a major infrastructure investment covering mass transit,” said Escalona.

Bloomberg report

As President Duterte marked his first 100 days last Friday, Bloomberg, however, reported that the Philippine Stock Exchange index dropped 2.8 percent since the day before Duterte’s June 30 inauguration, the only decliner among major Asian gauges.

“It’s the poorest showing for a new leader since stocks slumped 31 percent in 1998 in the first 14 weeks of the presidency of Joseph Estrada, the film actor turned politician who was impeached for corruption three years into his term,” the Bloomberg report further stated.

According to the financial giant, equities in Manila initially soared on Duterte’s election victory amid optimism that he could accelerate one of the fastest economic growth rates in Asia.

“But the euphoria melted away as concern over high valuations was exacerbated by Duterte’s volatile response to critics of his deadly anti-drug campaign,” the report said.
Foreigners pulled $531 million from the market in a 22-day run of outflows.

Quoting Hans Goetti, the Dubai-based chief strategist for the Middle East and Asia at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, the Bloomberg report said “Duterte is unpredictable and anything that’s unpredictable is negative.”

“The worst thing for the markets is they don’t know what they’re dealing with,” the report said on President Duterte’s first 100 days.

Safe environment

But Dickson Lim, vice president of the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said that while Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs may scare away prospects, foreign investors that have already set up businesses here will continue to expand as this assures them of a “safe environment.”

“Peace and order always go with economic growth,” Lim said.

Duterte earlier said that he would reach out to Russia and China should the Philippines cut ties with traditional Western partners such as the European Union and the
United States, which had been critical of the rampant drug-related killings.

Lim supported the idea of reaching out to China and strengthening trade relations with the republic, which is the second largest economy in the world.

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TAGS: Glenn Soco said, Inc., Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederation, President Rodrigo Duterte

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