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‘PH economy still on the right track,’—economist Villegas during PANA’s third GMM


The Philippines still remains one of the most promising economies in Asia despite being under a presidency that attracts a lot of controversy, according to economist Bernie Villegas.

Villegas, a professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific, was the guest speaker at the Philippine Association of National Advertisers’ third general assembly held in March in Makati City.

In a talk before PANA members, Villegas gave assurances that the Philippine economy will remain strong and be on a steady growth path. Citing reports, Villegas said the BPO sector and remittances from overseas workers remain strong and stable.

“Voice oriented BPO is going to plateau, but what will grow more are service oriented BPO, which include health information, animation, architectural and engineering, accounting, IT, and other professional services.”

Other indicators that the economy is doing well include the setting up of operations and factories in the country by Japanese businessmen, who are in the process of moving their operations outside of China.

But the biggest chunk of the growth would come from a big number of infrastructure projects the current government has so far initiated. These include airports, facilities, rail systems, transportation, and other projects.

“We will experience 8 to 10 percent growth rate because of the investments in the infrastructure.”

Villegas said the Calabarzon (Cavite, Batangaas, Quezon) area will have more infrastructure projects in the next few years as airport, seaport, and train system, and expansion of highway will eventually be developed in the region.

Iloilo City is the fastest growing city in the Philippines, said Villegas.

The Philippine peso versus the mighty US dollar, which of recent have seen the peso depreciating in value versus the dollar to a low of P52, isn’t “something to worry about,” said Villegas. The country had experienced much worst depreciation in the past but made it through, added Villegas.

The inflation rate, which is currently at 3.4 percent—the highest inflation rate since November 2014—shouldn’t also be something to worry about, said Villegas.

Villegas said the Philippines will also benefit greatly from the trade among countries in Asean, a big region that is currently experiencing more economic activity due to huge number of young and active consumers. Villegas said companies in the Philippines should look to these neighboring markets to expand.

There are, however, some challenges and these include development in the autonomous region in Mindanao, which remains the poorest region because of war and conflicts.

“Please ignore the noise coming from our President and focus on what he actually does,” said Villegas to allay the fears of his audience.

Villegas noted that President Duterte has the habit of saying “something preposterous but actually did the right thing.”

“(President) Duterte isn’t that crazy. He is streetsmart and in the area of economy we are in good hands. I have enough confidence in his judgement that he would decide in favor of the good the Philippines.”

During the event, PANA leadership also inducted Euro Towers International and Philippine Star as new members of the organization.

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