“The private sector has always been a valuable and reliable partner to the government.”
Digital transformation, connectivity, power and energy, and good governance are among the interconnected essentials that must play in sync to successfully pull out of this protracted state of crisis and start a momentum of sustained prosperity.
The eagerness to get out of this pandemic rut was palpable from all the government, industry, academe, and civil society thought leaders that shared their analyses and strategic solutions during the deep discussions in the sessions of the 2021 Pilipinas Conference organized by the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi).
The rise of the digital economy presents great opportunities and conversely, daunting challenges that will demand a collective, all of society effort to work together in healing the economic scars inflicted by the pandemic.
Stratbase ADRi President Professor Dindo Manhit, in his statement, called for “stakeholder capitalism,” a principle that re-defines the corporate mission beyond profits of shareholders to a long term relationship that understands and responds to stakeholders’ needs.
“Through the investments, expertise, and innovativeness of the private sector, coupled with heightened cooperation with other stakeholders, we believe that the most urgent socio-economic challenges can be addressed, jobs can be created, livelihood ecosystems can be nurtured, poverty can be alleviated, and the lives of millions of Filipinos can be uplifted,” Prof. Manhit said.
This stakeholder-centered orientation applies to both private and public enterprise especially as we now push with digital transformation and the urgency to upgrade and expand our digital infrastructure. The public’s appreciation of the benefits of going digital revealed in the Stratbase-commissioned Social Weather Stations survey is nothing short of overwhelming.
Almost nine in ten of Filipinos (89%) agreed that “digital technology such as strong cell phone signals, fast e-banking and social media can greatly help create jobs and businesses.” Respondents from the National Capital Region (NCR) were almost unanimous at 94% while the balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao were equally in great agreement at 88% to 89%.
The consensus was even higher on whether the “Government should build, upgrade and extensively expand the country’s digital infrastructure to improve speed, reliability and access to the internet nationwide” garnering a 92% nod of approval. All regions were actually at a statistical tie with NCR at 94%, Balance Luzon at 93%, Visayas and Mindanao at 90%.
These should be solid data for the government to start heavily investing in digital infrastructures that would complement the private sector’s telecommunications builds.
The strategic value of the private sector was strongly highlighted as four out of five (82%) of the survey’s respondents agreed that “the growth of the Philippine economy will be accelerated if the government collaborates with the private sector.” Given a choice of issues that private sector can be most effective, creating jobs was ranked first at 65%, expanding livelihood came second at 46%, third is helping Filipinos out of poverty (30%), next is improving the quality of education (22%), followed by Managing natural resources and taking care of the environment. Eleven percent also saw the importance of private investment in the closely linked issues of improving the quality and access of digital services and developing public infrastructure.
For his part, Ayala Corporation Chairman, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (JAZA), called for a collective commitment for a relentless push for sustainable economic recovery. In a previous Pilipinas Conference statement, JAZA said that the only way to survive the pandemic is for the Philippines to go digital.
“We’re spending close to one billion dollars a year on a regular basis, year after year, building and rebuilding the infrastructure and adding to it as much as needed,” JAZA said.
He acknowledged that the “pandemic had worsened the fissures of inequality that were already present in our society even before the pandemic.”
“In this sphere, unprecedented collaboration is demanded of us — the private sector, government, and civil society, both locally and globally — all of us have to work together.”
JAZA expressed the private sector’s readiness to be a reliable partner of the government in addressing the people’s pain points of poverty, hunger, health emergency and unemployment.
Mr. Diwa Guinigundo, former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor of the Monetary and Economics Sector emphasized the role of the private sector in leading the innovation of digital products and services that would allow us to increase the breadth and reach of markets in these digital times of pandemic as among the major factors needed in promoting overall sustainable growth.
The developmental drive of private industries driven by its passionate leaders has always spearheaded economic growth. Creating a conducive environment for an investment-driven recovery in the context of a digital powered ecosystem will need a new paradigm of governance that can keep pace with fast evolving technologies and adaptive to the positive disruptions that digital technologies will bring.