By Senator Manny Villar
The Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day every fourth Thursday of November. It is a holiday that allows them to express their gratitude for a good life with their family and the community. We do not have a Thanksgiving holiday in the Philippines but I think the New Year celebration comes close because it is the time when we reflect on our blessings for the year and look forward to a new year.
New year celebrations give us the opportunity to be thankful for the blessings we received the past year. We should be thankful for the life we continue to live, the family and friends who continue to love us and the community that continues to nurture us. As a country let us be thankful that 2017 has been a very good year for us.
And we are going to end the year 2017 with a bang.
A few weeks before the year ends, the credit rating agency Fitch upgraded the country’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating from BBB minus to BBB plus. Fitch noted that the Philippines “strong and consistent macroeconomic performance has continued, underpinned by sound policies that are supporting high and sustainable growth rates.”
This rating upgrade simply confirms what everyone else knows: that the Philippines continues to enjoy a strong economy that is very attractive to businesses and investors.
In particular, our economy, which has been growing for more than a decade now, continues to grow at spectacular rate.
I do not want to bore my readers with statistics but GDP is growth is very good and is considered one of the fastest growing GDPs in the region. The better news is that all the global financial institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank project that this growth will continue in the next year.
Inflation is well within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) target range. The stock market is performing very well, and Congress just passed a tax reform package that provides tax relief to low and middle income earners giving them a boost in spending power while at the same time ensuring that government revenues are steady.
The government’s “Build, Build, Build” program is accelerating infrastructure programs in Metro Manila designed to modernize our road system and address our worsening traffic problem. But the program is also in full blast in the provinces where it is hoped to stir economic activities thereby decentralizing development and hopefully moving population away from crowded urban areas. The construction business is in such a frenetic pace that there is an honest to goodness scarcity of construction workers.
The President, I believe, has done very well presiding over this tremendous economic success with the help of his economic managers. He has done very well in security issues as well as in peace and order.
His handling of the Marawi Siege should be commended because not only did our security forces defeat the Maute Group, we also sent a message to terrorists that “if you mess with us, we’ll mess with you.” His unrelenting war against illegal drugs has also resulted dividends to our peace and order situation.
This is the reason why President Duterte’s popularity remains high despite the criticisms from some segments of the population. The Filipino people continue to trust him and his satisfaction ratings remain high because he is confronting the issues that matter to ordinary folks. These are gut issues—issues that are important to our kababayans.
The President’s resolute stand has brought a sense of order and stability. While much still has to be accomplished, it has ushered in tremendous improvements which the business community has greatly appreciated.
The business environment in the country has never been better. Businesses are expanding and diversifying giving Filipino consumers more choices and better services. Fitch Ratings in fact noted that “there is no evidence so far that incidents of violence associated with the administration’s campaign against the illegal drug trade have undermined investor confidence”.
So before the fireworks go off, say a little prayer for your family and loved ones. Say a little prayer for the country and thank God for all our blessings. Happy New Year to all!