DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 November) – The country will open its doors to foreign investments in telecommunications and power to enhance competition that will bring down the costs and improve the quality of services, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said upon his return from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Lima, Peru.
In his arrival message at the F. Bangoy International airport late evening on Wednesday, Duterte said strengthening the power and communications sectors through competition as drivers of growth will enable the country to move faster.
“I’d like to send this strong message — it’s about time that we share the money of the entire country, and to move faster, make competition open to all kasi pagkaganito with the corrupt government and with limited area to move, you’ll stymie competition and we will always be at the mercy of the corrupt of this planet,” he said.
He added the government was finalizing plans and looking into regulatory requirements and institutional arrangements to hasten the entry of new players in communications and power sector.
“Multibillion – multi is the first name, billion is the last name. Bakit ako magdadalawang isip. And I do not owe you anything, that’s precisely the reason why I was avoiding you during last election,” he said, alluding to power and telecommunications companies.
He told the same companies he might change his mind [on opening up the country to foreign investors] if they lowered their rates and improved their services.
“The Philippines acknowledged the significant role of more vibrant telecommunications and power industry to be able to participate in the global market with a competitive edge, recognizing the importance of law enforcement, creating an enabling, safe and secure business environment. We are also committed to enhance the capability of our police force,” he said.
Duterte acknowledged that while corruption in government is also true to other countries and they have yet to take concrete steps to address it, he could not afford to just wait and see.
“We do not monopolize government corruption. That problem is shared by the international arena, but I would like not to wait for the others. Buksan ko na ang Pilipinas para wala nang (I will open up the Philippines so there will no longer be — and maybe reroute the entire red tape,” he said.
He reiterated his stance against corruption and warned that anyone in government who would commit anomalies will be dealt with “seriously and severely.”
To expedite the processing of business applications, he proposed that these be sent to his office and he would be the one to submit them and get the results from respective departments.
“Otherwise, wala tayong pahinga nito (we cannot have a rest from this), and I would say kung ganun naman lang (if this situation persists), I’d rather resign and give it to the others,” he said.
Duterte said he is optimistic that the country can sustain its growth.
“The Philippines is on track with unparalleled trajectory of growth. Let’s work hard together to sustain if not surpass what Philippines has so far achieved to improve the ease of doing business, suppress drugs and criminality, and eliminate corruption,” he said.
He said that world economic leaders reviewed the progress made by the APEC in “achieving the organization’s goals for trade has helped spur growth.”
He said that they acknowledged that “there was keen awareness that free trade must benefit not only the big businesses.”
“I stressed the Philippines position that we must go beyond free trade and focus instead on economic trade policies that must immediately yield benefits for our micro small and medium enterprises that form the backbone of the APEC economies,” he said.
He said that they need to develop the micro, small, and medium enterprises to enable them to compete globally by providing a “supportive policy framework that ensure economic environment for all businesses to thrive.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)