‘Let us proudly tell the world that the Philippines is open for business’

Nothing says “we’re open for business” resoundingly than a crowd of executives, entrepreneurs, ambassadors, local government and national government leaders, and most of all, the President, gathered in one ballroom of The Manila Hotel during the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Expo, organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). The air was thick with excitement, propelled by the optimistic buzz of the last quarter of the year, never mind if there are global issues that affect inflation, gas prices, and investor confidence.

What’s important for businesses to hear during the two-day conference is that the government is doing its best to make the country ready and open for business. And they heard it from the President himself when he reiterated his vision of “improving business climate and elevating the status of the Philippines as a top investment destination.”

One of the laudable points of the President’s speech is that he considered the business community as more than a “partner” as it is the group that will propel the country forward — the main driver of success.

“You are the nation’s agents of creativity, innovation, and progress, and all of you give us hope that we will, in the not-so-distant future, not only live in a country of opportunity but also in a land of golden harvests and of plenty,” the President said. “You will be the main driver of our success as we emerge from the setbacks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the shocks that the economy, the world economy, has suffered in the past few months.”

Noting the fact that Covid is still around, the President lauded the business community for cooperating with the government’s programs and initiatives, especially during the vaccination and booster campaigns.

“With sure and steady steps, the government is now hard at work at recovering the many opportunities that we have lost prior to this global health crisis while, in the meantime, also navigating the waters of what we have all come to call the new normal,” he said. “In this journey, our business sector has always been recognized as an important partner and a source of new and bold ideas on how we can bounce back and prosper in the long run.”

To demonstrate its genuine intent to help the government get the economy back on its feet, conference chairperson Ferdinand Ferrer presented to the President 10 resolutions. These, Ferrer said, “reflect the private sector’s commitment to provide meaningful solutions to priority pressing issues and concerns that will help deal with the significant challenges and opportunities in the years ahead.”

The 10 resolutions cover food security, educational system, digitalization, climate change, power supply, transport system, international trade, among others.

The President, as a response, expressed his appreciation to the PCCI’s support and said that the policy recommendations are “very much in line with the government's thrust, and the government’s directions that we feel will be the most advantageous for the Philippines.”

“I assure you that the concerned agencies will assess the feasibility and probability of success of these recommendations,” said the President. “With these deals closed, policies agreed upon, bonds renewed and forged, all of us can proudly tell the world: The Philippines is indeed open and ready for business again!”

Yes, indeed — may businesses continue to open and flourish, may investments pour in from all over the world, may more Filipinos be employed in the land of their birth, and may Covid never ever disrupt our economy again.