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Cebu’s business leaders have welcomed the Fitch credit upgrade of the Philippines, but called on the government to address barriers that might impact on sustaining that achievement.
Lito Maderazo, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said the Fitch upgrade will have immediate impact such as low interest rates and sparking growth in the stock market.
But Maderazo said the government still needs to make the country attractive to foreign direct investments.
”This means more infrastructure, lower cost and reliable power, competitive transportation and more importantly, less red tape and ease in doing business,” he said.
Gordon Alan Joseph, Cebu Business Club (CBC) president, said the credit upgrade will reduce interest rates for sovereign debt and should increase the interest of foreign investments.
Joseph said there is a need to translate the increase of investment interest into actual job generating investments.
Joseph said the Philippines must work its way to get rating upgrades from the other two major agencies - Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Service -which have already raised the country to one notch below investment grade last year.
Philip Tan, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (MCCI) president, said he hoped that the upgrade will trigger both foreign and local investment opportunities, business expansions and jobs generation in the country.
”The challenge here is to sustain this buoyant situation in the future, especially from this year onwards since it’s an election year,” he said.
Tan praised the Aquino administration for the recent investment grade, which he noted is a result of good governance, government transparency to projects and efforts to enable business environment.
Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport) Cebu executive director Fred Escalona said the upgrade adds more credibility to the country which would eventually attract investors and prompt businesses to lend at lower rates.
But Escalona said he observed that it doesn’t have a remarkable reaction to the dollar value, which he forecast to be locked within P40 and P41.
He suggested that the Philippines, in addressing the weakening dollar, must also extend its financial support to the export industry sector so that players would be able to effectively lead foreign investors to the country.
Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Cebu director Robert Go said that with the upgrade, the Philippines can expect a deluge of investments and accelerated stocks which would bring in more money.