Asian Institute of Management president and dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang with Manuel Pangilinan, Doris Magsaysay-Ho, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Washington SyCip, and Coco Alcuaz at AIM For Change, a series of roundtable discussions where four of the country’s top business titans weighed in on how the current administration should address inclusive growth through the eyes of an experienced executive.
Four top Philippine business leaders voiced out their expectations on the Duterte administration, particularly about how it can work on an agenda of inclusive growth.
The business leaders – Doris Magsaysay-Ho, Manny Pangilinan, Washington SyCip and Jaime Zobel de Ayala – spoke at the AIM For Change event, a series of roundtable discussions recently staged by the Asian Institute of Management at Fairmont Hotel Makati.
AIM, one of the region's most respected educational institutions and think tanks, partnered with TeamAsia, an integrated marketing communication firm, to hold the talks with the four business leaders. The talks were moderated by Coco Alcuaz, who heads the Manila bureau of the International Business Times.
Each panelist shared their thoughts about the current state of the nation, how to reduce poverty, the achievements of the Aquino administration, and how President Duterte’s administration can capitalize and further push for growth in a much wider scale.
“We are about to enter a historic time in the Philippines and the business sector is excited to work with President Duterte,” said Jikyeong Kang, dean and president of AIM. “While we are different entities, we are working towards the same goal: improving the life of every Filipino and making sure they feel economic growth.”
Growth felt by everyone
In the discussions, the four executives described the current state of the nation, how to reduce poverty, and the value of picking the right cabinet members. Each of the panelist shared their thoughts under the Chatham House Rule, which keeps the identity of the speaker a secret.
“[The last] six years gave us a lot of confidence, and I think we can’t help but be proud of what the Aquino administration has done for the country,” shared one panelist. “But this growth that we’re so proud of has no relevance in the lives of many Filipinos.”
In recent years, the Aquino administration achieved a reported 6.2 percent annual average economic growth and investment grade ratings from various international agencies, paving the way for good governance reforms that positively affected social services, health and education. Despite this, the Philippine Statistics Authority found that over 26.3 percent of Filipinos are still living under poverty, in the first semester of 2015.
“It’s hard to address anything because everything is all over the place and it’s not put together. We have to shift from the ‘kanya-kanya’ development and focus on building ecosystems,” says one panelist. “For example, if we look at internet and broadband as part of a future innovation economy, it’s a whole ecosystem that includes schools, research and development, and incubators. All of a sudden, it becomes part of a bigger state.”
Industries to focus on
Together, panelists agreed on pushing for agriculture, education, zoning, infrastructures, and internet and broadband. One believes that the government should develop agriculture and tourism because these are sectors that provide jobs.
To date, the agriculture industry employs almost a third of the country’s workforce, but only makes up roughly 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
On the other hand, tourism’s contribution to the economy has doubled in the past five years, with foreigners spending Php 306.6 billion in 2015 alone.
“We need to believe in the government’s ability to do things,” adds another. “We need to contribute and we have to break silos. We have to empower. I’m worried about a president who might be focused too much on security only.”
“Running a corporation is like running a country,” adds Kang. “Like a nation's president, an executive is responsible for everyone in the company and their experience in the private sector can be translated to the public sector.”
Magsaysay-Ho, Pangilinan, SyCip, and Zobel de Ayala are some of the most respected business executives in the Philippines. They operate in hospitality and tourism, transport, logistics, healthcare, oil and gas, specialized engineering, trade, telecommunications, power, water, broadcasting, mining, accounting, real estate, banking, electronics, automotive and education.
“We are united in our dream for inclusive growth for all Filipinos, and the discussions are just the first step in the right direction. So now we ask ourselves, what next?” ends Kang. “If we are committed to generating inclusive growth for all Filipinos, our commitment and our actions cannot be diluted. We are the change we seek and the action required of each one of us must be unequivocal.”