Business Mirror – Solon: Improved power supply key to more investments

By Mia M. Gonzalez | Business Mirror

businessMirrorDEVELOPMENTS in the US economy that caused the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) to dip last week should prompt the government to step up efforts to resolve problems in power supply, which is essential to drawing foreign direct investments (FDI), a senator said before the weekend.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made the statement while responding to questions on the proposed $1-billion rehabilitation plan for the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) submitted by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) to Malacañang, to avert a potential power crisis in the country.

Asked if the proposal was worth considering, the senator said, “It’s not just worth looking into; it’s absolutely necessary for the economy that we fix the problem of power.”He said industrialization is not impossible without sufficient, cheap and reliable power sources which are not present in the Philippines.

“When you talk of prospective investors, the main problem they say is power. That’s why we don’t have foreign direct investments. If you look at the FDI numbers in the last two years, we have not seen direct investments from foreign investors. The only money that has been coming in is hot money,” Marcos said.

He said the presence of hot money in the country was evident after US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced last week that the US would slow down its economic stimulus this year, citing the strengthening US economy.

“You saw what happened after Bernanke announced that they will stop their bond-buying program. So that will bring the hot money again away from us and we’re left again with the same problems that we found,” Marcos said.

The PSEi’s drop following Bernanke’s announcement was the steepest in the region.

Marcos said the Philippines, which has been enjoying positive economic developments this year, cannot “rest on its laurels and depend only on the development of the consumer side of our economy.”

The senator said he believed this was the case now as there appeared to be a dependence on dollar remittances of overseas Filipino workers.

“We have to make public investments so that the economy would grow on its own and we are not dependent upon these very volatile investors that come in. We need foreign direct investments, we need capital investments. That is the key to development,” he said.

When asked about the possible reluctance of the Aquino administration to revive the BNPP because of various considerations, including its controversial history that made it a symbol of corruption during the Marcos regime, the senator said that if the government was not keen on the project, it should strive to find a better alternative.

“No one is married to these concepts. If you find me a better concept, let’s do that. It’s not because it was originally from my father that we have to push it. If that can’t de done, then give a solution. if not, nothing would happen to us,” he said.

Marcos also said the government should not be content with its 7.8-percent growth in the first quarter of the year which he believed was due mostly to campaign spending for the May 2013 elections.

“We are coasting. We shouldn’t be coasting because we can’t afford to,” he said.

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