The economy should be our focus

A couple of days ago, I got an email from a friend. It was a forwarded blog entitled “The Challenge of a Hundred Days: Believing that Filipinos can End Poverty and Corruption in the Philippines” by Gawad Kalinga (GK) Founder and Champion Tony Meloto.

Tony is not only a strong supporter of Go Negosyo; he is also a good friend of mine. I have come to know Tony in the early days, as he started his advocacy of creating homes for the homeless. He is an inspiration when I was starting Go Negosyo together with other like-minded entrepreneur-advocates.  Our efforts to provide ‘kabuhayan’ complement what GK is doing on ‘kabahayan’ and value formation.

What did the blog say? Let me share parts of Tony’s thoughts on what is happening now in our country and his thoughts about our new president.

“The first 100 days after June 30 is not just for the new President to prove to us that he can lead but, more importantly, for all of us to prove to ourselves that we love this country enough to set aside our differences and interests to help him succeed and finally show the world that we are not too selfish and self-serving… and downright stupid… in the practice of our faith and freedom.

The first 100 days is our test if we can do things differently given this new window of opportunity. We not only need a good leader but we have to prove to ourselves that we are deserving of a good one.

…The new President has feet of clay who has yet to end his nicotine addiction and he will most likely fail us if we do not give him the strength he needs to overcome his weaknesses. He needs us as we need him to be strong as a people. Let’s try our best not to fail one another. Now that elections are over it is time to come out and express solidarity with our chosen leader for the good of all by being what we demand him to be.

The poor are starting to see him as hope. This was their statement in the last election when they chose Noynoy. We must therefore help him champion the rising Filipino poor for their hope not to be dashed again. Help him help them out of extreme poverty and give them middle-class aspirations. That will motivate them to work and send their children to school. The rejected stones can be the foundation of a strong nation. A true leader is one who will make this happen.”

In my previous column entitled “A nation to be great”, I remember mentioning that it is now our chance to have a nation to be proud of. We just need to look at the bright side, to have the confidence, and to see the opportunities. I believe that we need to realize the good things that the current administration has done for the economy, to build up further on our strengths for us to continue to move forward.

We have escaped the financial crisis of 2008. Our country continues to have good growth rates. Even during the first quarter, we saw the GDP at 7.3%. You can also see from the financial numbers that many of the listed companies have reported sales and profits that are growing at record levels.  It is like a warmed-up car ready to sprint to new growth levels.

The Go Negosyo team and I have been exposed to a number of Filipino entrepreneurs around the country through the Negosyo Seminars (Negosems) we have conducted with DTI in the last three months. More than 12 thousand entrepreneurs who attended our Negosems in 20 regions are all hoping that our new president will continue PGMA’s good work in growing the Philippine economy.

I dread to see Filipinos continuing the habit of fault-finding and putting all efforts by the government in prosecution. Even now we see the start of new criticisms being hurled at the front-runner of the Presidential race and he even hasn’t been proclaimed nor sworn into office. Let’s give our country a chance. We need to focus on the momentum that is now created. We are at that tipping point and we must all work together to carry it through. Our country can really move towards being re-rated to investment grade. As an entrepreneur, I believe we focus on our businesses, on how we can do our share helping our country and our people.

Can you imagine an Aquino presidency with high moral ascendancy and strong efforts to push our economy to even greater heights? We will see more Filipinos benefiting from the upsurge and not just large companies. This is why we see a tremendous attendance in our caravans, summits and Negosems. A lot of entrepreneurs do want to move up, from just being micro to becoming eventually medium-sized negosyos. We really must make sure that Noynoy succeeds in this presidency. I feel that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, when you see a confluence of positive factors.

Thailand’s unfortunate circumstances will benefit us in terms of tourism and other business services. Our BPO industry will continue to even grow. Our OFW remittance will take our reserves higher than our total debt, making us a ‘creditor’ to other nations. Our high growth rate in the first quarter, which is usually the weakest quarter, means that we have a chance for a double digit growth in the succeeding quarters. Imagine that money going around our economic system, creating demand leading to more investments and employment.

Many people find me optimistic. I guess I try to look at a glass as half full rather than half empty. We also need to be realistic. While idealisms are important, we need to temper that with reality and street smart thinking.

I do hope Noynoy would work with PGMA, Villar and other leaders with a heart to help, as they can continue to be a force in the political world together. We need unity and a focused direction to become a great nation.

There are just so many people still below the poverty line. We need to help them. A vibrant economy is what we need to fight poverty. Let us now give our Filipino brothers the chance to move up in life. After all, God has blessed our new leaders with the chance to lead this nation. The real test of great leadership is humility and action.