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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Recovery seen with "whole of society" approach, says Ayala Corporation chair and CEO JAZA

“COVID-19 crisis is a turning point for change,” says Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala

MANILA – A pillar in Philippine business, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said there is a need for more investments in the healthcare system and health workers to keep people safe and confident as the country responsibly open and restart the economy.

In his Opening Message to the 9th Arangkada Forum 2020 with the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, Mr. Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Corporation chairman and CEO, said the year was indeed a challenging one.

“In the world of commerce, the sharp and extended deceleration in supply and demand has resulted in a massive drop in revenue flows across borders; thus creating significant fissures in our economic infrastructure, as well as our interconnectedness as a global and local community,” he said.

However, he added the crisis “is a turning point for change, it has to be; and an opportunity for all of us to take action.”

He added he was privileged to see examples of heroism, resilience and resoluteness which reinforced his belief in the inherent capacity of people to reinvent themselves and institutions to adapt to changing circumstances as well as of economies to rebuild to new heights.

Speaking before foreign and Filipino businessmen, Mr. Zobel de Ayala said companies with a track record of reinvention and resilience despite multiple economic cycles “are better positioned to attract capital and investors.” He said there is a growing number of investors “who demand a mindset of sustainability as a criterion for investing in a venture or a company.”

As expected in times of crises, capital flight is expected from higher risk places to lower risk destinations and from emerging economies to developed ones.

“After-crises, that capital is prepared to take on higher risks as it seeks higher return multiples; albeit not necessarily returning back to the same ventures they fled,” he added. He underscored the fact some signs of a positive trajectory for the private sector can be seen from companies’ success in increasing capital.

He said the Ayala group continued to attract strategic investments, a significant part of which are foreign investments.

“Ayala Land, BPI, Globe and Manila Water raised – US$3 billion in combined proceeds from various domestic and international capital raising initiatives,” he added.

Mr. Zobel de Ayala said there will be problems ahead that would require a “whole of society” approach by effectively managing the health situation, increasing the ease of doing business and by restoring and encouraging consumer confidence.

He explained the private sector continues to work government in its fight against COVID-19 through is Task Force T3, to build testing and treatment capacity which expanded to include data management, tracing, LGU training, and citizen education on minimum health standards.

The improvement of the ease of doing business remains a priority and the private sector has supported the acceleration of many structural and policy reforms. Business should be assured of predictability of policy and the regulatory environment.

“More than firing up manufacturing and the supply side, we need to resuscitate demand. The Philippines has been among the hardest hit economies because we are among those who are most consumption-driven,” he said.

He underscore the need to create an environment where consumers feel safe, financially secure and confident about the prospects of the future.

“If COVID-19 is what it had to take to stir up and jolt us into this renewal, then this annus horribilis may yet usher in our annus mirabilis,” he conclud

Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime August Zobel de Ayala (second from right) in a file photo.

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