Speech of President Aquino at the 16th anniversary celebrations of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority

John Hayes MP, Ambassador Andrew Matheson, Pre...Image by nznationalpartySpeech of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino IIIPresident of the Philippines
During the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s 16th Anniversary and Investors’ Recognition Night
[Delivered at the World Trade Center, Pasay City on March 24, 2011]
We are here today to celebrate the 16th year of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), a consistent haven for private sector investments. Throughout the last 16 years, economic zones have attracted investments through a combination of physical infrastructure, financial incentives, and consistent regulation.
The enormous benefits of economic zones and their developers, economic zone locator enterprises, and other stakeholders to the country’s socioeconomic growth and development are the fruit of PEZA’s efforts. You have facilitated locators’ operations in export-oriented manufacturing and service. You have promoted local investments by extending assistance and providing incentives to investors, and have helped transform the Philippines into a more reliable and profitable investment destination. The growth in the number of economic zones over the last several years is a testament to our country’s ability to provide the right environment for private enterprise—an environment nurtured by PEZA.
Of course, much of what PEZA has accomplished would not be possible without the strong leadership of Director General Lilia B. De Lima. Since 1995, her leadership has been characterized by her no-corruption, no-red-tape, and only-red-carpet treatment to investors. In fact, one of the few things that, I think, the past administration did right was the reappointment of Director General de Lima.
PEZA has continuously improved and enhanced its services to investors, and the Filipino people are truly grateful for having such a dedicated and honorable public servant.
All these efforts have given our country a total of 1.71 trillion pesos worth of investments since 1995. In 2010 alone, total investments in PEZA reached almost 205 billion pesos, more than 17 percent higher compared to 2009. With high levels of education, fluency in English, skills in the fields of automotive, construction, metals and engineering, and information technology, our 38-million-strong labor force remains one of the greatest assets, if not investments, of the country. In 2010 alone, direct employment in PEZA increased by more than 20 percent, from just around 610,000 jobs in 2009 to more than 735,000 jobs today. Moreover, the phenomenal rise of our business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, recently surpassing India for the first time in total revenues for call center operations, and gaining profits of over 5.7 billion dollars, can be credited to PEZA’s high level of commitment to providing quality products and services to investors. With PEZA capitalizing on these advantages, I am confident that for 2011, you will not only reach your 10 percent growth target, but will most likely surpass it—and if you reach a hundred percent improvement, I will be be eternally grateful.
As a government agency that consistently remits dividends to the National Government, you exemplify what good, responsible governance is all about. From 1995 to 2010, you remitted to the National Government a total of 12.67 billion pesos—an amount that will allow us to frontload our expenditures and speed up the implementation of our antipoverty programs, among others.
From day one, we have recognized the importance of private capital in addressing the pressing concerns of the country. We are striving to create an environment where businesses can flourish, so the government can focus its resources on much needed social services such as the improvement of our health and education sectors, as well as in reducing hunger and poverty. In this way, the private sector is helping us inch closer to progress, and the Filipino people are indeed truly grateful for this. Rest assured that this trust will not be taken for granted.
To all our partners: This administration is eager to rebuild this nation with you. We are committed to fast track the facilitation of the approval and implementation of your projects, not only to guarantee a level playing field, but also to prove that the Philippines is governed by an administration that responds to the concerns of all sectors. We are eager to show the world what the Filipino can do; we are eager to restore our national dignity; to write the next chapter in the story of our people and our nation—a story of increasing confidence, from businesses, investors, and consumers alike; a story of an economy that promises even further growth to its investors; a story of an administration that stands for transparency and accountability.
Indeed, we are now moving forward under the guidance of daylight. With agencies like PEZA that stand as our allies in our fight to bring back dignity into governance, and with all the investors who never fail to recognize their social responsibility to the community, I remain confident that we will complete this economic resurgence. As we journey toward the straight and righteous path, the world is finally beginning to see what we are truly capable of.
And to all of you, I bid you good night and thank you.