BPI CEO Montinola: Philippines no longer “sick man of Asia”


Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aurelio Montinola III served as the guest speaker of the Economic Club of Memphis last May 9. The event was as one of the activities of the ongoing Memphis in May Festival.
The Harvard-educated banker cited the challenges, which were raised at the recent Asian Development Bank meeting in Manila that the world economy confronts, including high oil prices, the threat of a double dip recession in the United States, worries over China’s hard landing, and possibilities of a Euro zone contagion. He was, however, upbeat over growth prospects in the Southeast Asian region, with its efforts toward closer economic integration, and said that Asia remains resilient.
Providing an account of the gains the Philippines has achieved since the assumption of President Benigno S. Aquino III into office, Mr. Montinola proclaimed that the country is no longer considered the “sick man of Asia.”
He noted that the Aquino administration’s good governance agenda has translated to an improvement in the country’s political situation and fiscal position. He pointed to the country’s healthy banking system and added that the Philippines is no longer indebted to the International Monetary Fund, but is now a net creditor.
Mr. Montinola listed the areas where focus is being devoted by the Philippine economic managers—agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism. He also cited the Philippines’ edge in English proficiency, spectacular returns investors in the stock market have been receiving, strong local currency, and borrowing rates to access foreign funds that are even more advantageous compared to certain investment grade countries.
He urged investors to seize opportunities the Philippines presents, including its free trade zones and large infrastructure projects being offered to qualified bidders.
Mr. Montinola, also serves as President of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) and Director of the Makati Business Club (MBC). He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Management Engineering degree at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1973 and obtained his MBA at the Harvard Business School in 1977.