Her Excellency Corazon Aquino
President of the Philippines
On privatizing public corporations
[Delivered to the Philippine Opportunities for Entrepreneurs and Investors, December 9, 1986]
PRIVATIZING PUBLIC CORPORATIONS
The President reiterates her commitment to strengthen free enterprise. She promises not to commit the previous administration’s mistake of practically running the economy. Her government is determined to dispose of non-performing assets and to hand the engine of the economy back to the private sector. She is convinced that that will lead to greater efficiency, productivity and private-sector cooperation.
I warmly welcome all of you to Phoenix, the acronym for “Philippine Opportunities for Entrepreneurs and Investors, ’86.”
The purpose of this conference is to open before you the path we have prepared for the privatization of government-owned and controlled corporations.
It has been said that the Philippines is merely paying lip service to privatization, with no real intention of implementing it. This conference is the first in a series aimed at providing the necessary vehicles for both buyers and sellers of government business assets and investments.
I am aware that business has wanted stability, coherence and predictability from Day One of my administration. So have we. Many forces however have been at work to prevent us from achieving this.
There are still those who up to now continue to play politics to the detriment of the vast majority of our countrymen who simply want to work and live in peace.
From the start these people had predicted we would not last beyond a few weeks. My predecessor, for instance, dogmatically asserted last April that in a month’s time the government would have fallen. The timetable has kept changing since but the mischief remains. Here I am, on my tenth month in office, determined as ever to serve out to the full the term of my contract with my people.
There is a sense of self-fulfilling prophecy which we must resist vigorously,
I am continuing to carry out my part of the bargain. Many of those who supported me came from your ranks, especially, as I had opened my campaign with a pledge to restore to private business the role of being the engine of the economy. Will you now carry out your part?
As of today, four of my original Ministers have been replaced in a manner consistent with my policy of forbearance. They had all helped considerably to bring down the dictatorship. It is possible that there will be more announcements in the coming days as we subject everything to continuing review. We are naturally concerned that if more changes are made, they will be for the better. Therefore we cannot be too careful in studying and selecting replacements.
We are committed to free enterprise, tempered by the need to see to it that policies do not reflect only the interests of the rich and powerful in our society, but rather that of the nation as a whole.
I created yesterday a body which will take care of disposing of the so-called non-performing assets.
The sale of government corporations is both a necessary measure to alleviate the very heavy strain on the national budget and an imperative of national economic growth and development based on the private sector.
We learned during the Marcos years the bitter lessons of government monopolies, profligate spending, and state intervention and control of business operations and market forces better left in the hands of business. We have learned, and are paying the price of the lesson, that possession of unchallenged economic power deadens initiative, discourages thrift, and depresses energy; that immunity from competition is a narcotic, and rivalry is a stimulant, to individual progress. That the spur of constant stress is necessary to counteract the natural tendency to let well enough alone.
This conference presents the various investment possibilities we are offering to investors. They present a wide range of industries: from shipbuilding to processed foods; from oil refining to hotels and tourist operations. And aswe commit to sell, we likewise pledge not to compete with the private sector in these businesses which properly belong to them.
We welcome foreign investments in areas where local investments have proved inadequate for meaningful development. We offer a climate of free enterprise, with a minimum of state regulation and protection. I said it before, we offer an environment where there are no fears and no favors; where some direct correlation is maintained between the growth and prosperity of a business and the amount of energy, pluck, intelligence, and personal investment that are put into it.
But we enthusiastically encourage and prefer investment partnerships with our local capital, because this is where the best prospect lies for long-term and healthy relationships between foreign enterprises and the domestic economy.
The true value of the assets that we offer are not in the balance sheets and the appraisal reports of the corporations on sale, for these reflect the tragic past of profligacy and incompetence on which we have resolutely turned our backs. Rather their true value is found in the hearts and minds of a people who have recovered the will to achieve and the spirit of sacrifice that are essential to the success of any enterprise.
Do not wait until conditions are ideal. To the fainthearted they will never be, and you will always come across them. For a true businessman, a risk is an opportunity.
Come and join us then in this new miracle of economic recovery and progress. Like the miracle of freedom you witnessed, this too will come through our united efforts.
Jobs and justice, food and freedom, to use the words of Senator Diokno, are our agenda. They are the components of that progress we hope to achieve and from which we can all benefit.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library