To complement the Philippine Economic Briefing, DBM Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno met with various members of the British business, education, and government sectors in separate engagements held in London, United Kingdom from September 24 to 28, 2018.
The meetings were aimed to further the agenda of the Philippine delegation in the UK, which is to encourage British investments and partnerships with the Philippines.
Philippines, a bright spot for UK investments
On September 24, Sec. Diokno met with some top officials from HSBC UK. In the meeting, the Budget Chief highlighted the Philippine economy's sound and robust macroeconomic fundamentals, which allow the country to poise itself as Asia's next investment hub.
Secretary Diokno, along with NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, also met with British telecom giant Vodafone to discuss the possibility of the company entering the Philippines as a third player. Vodafone officials raised concerns on the ease of doing business in the Philippines, which the cabinet secretaries were quick to address by stating that the President has signed the Ease of Doing Business Act early this year.
Afterwards, the cabinet secretaries met with Royal Dutch Shell to discuss business prospects in the Philippines.
On the same day, Sec. Diokno sat with other key officials—NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo—for a round table discussion with members of various international banks and business chambers. Bankers were particularly interested in the Duterte administration's ambitious Build Build Build infrastructure program, and how the Philippines is responding to the various changes in the global economic environment.
The meetings and discussions were aimed at encouraging further British investment in the Philippines, as the United Kingdom remains as one of our Top 10 sources of Foreign Direct Investment. "In line with our twin goals of pushing growth to 7-8% annually and reducing poverty from 21% to just 14%, we are doing our best to attract foreign investments to help us with our economic and development agenda," the Budget Secretary remarked.
On education and government partnerships
On September 26, Sec. Diokno and NEDA Sec. Pernia met with school administrators of the London School of Economics (LSE), and discussed possible educational partnerships with the institution. LSE, a global leading school for economics, political science, and public policy, offers executive education courses and other programs. "We are exploring the possibility of a partnership with LSE, especially with respect to their short-term programs. We believe this could help further the competencies of our civil servants," Secretary Diokno said.
Sec. Diokno also sat with Fung Siu of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to explain the Philippines’ macroeconomic outlook, and address other issues related to the country’s economic policies. EIU is an arm of The Economist, and is a provider of country, risk, and industry reports and analyses worldwide.
Lastly on September 28, Sec. Diokno attended a briefing by the UK Government Digital Service (UK GDS) on procurement reforms and the utilization of digital platforms for government services. This is in line with the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) efforts to implement a more efficient procurement and public financial management systems through the use of modern platforms.
“The United Kingdom is a suitable partner for the Philippines, both in terms of business and education. We look forward to stronger economic ties with the British community,” Sec. Diokno noted.