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Closing remarks of DBP Chairman Jose A. Nunez, Jr.
DBP Developmental Forum – “Moving Forward: DBP’s Role in Sustainable Inclusive Growth”
15 July 2013 (Monday) / 2 p.m. / Bulwagan ng Diwang Pilipino

Dr. Manny Esguerra [NEDA Deputy Director General]
Mr. Norio Usui [Senior Economist, Philippine Country Office, ADB]
Mr. Romy Bernardo [Managing Director, Lazaro, Bernardo, Tiu & Associates]
My colleagues in DBP

Good afternoon.

First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to our speakers -- Dr. Esguerra, Mr. Usui of ADB, EVP Lagua, and of course our moderator, Mr. Bernardo -- for sharing with us their knowledge and views on the issue of inclusive growth in the Philippines. Thank you too to everyone who came in and participated in the open forum, helping all of us here to better understand the topic at hand. It was good to see a sizeable number of our branch officers in attendance, and I feel confident that we’ve all learned valuable lessons from today’s discussion.

The topic of inclusive growth has been well-discussed and deliberated in the media, especially with the encouraging economic gains that the country has posted under the Aquino Administration. The 7.8% GDP growth recorded in the first quarter of 2013 comes on the heels of a better than expected 6.6% GDP growth posted in 2012. Add to this other positive economic developments -- stock market prices at an all-time high (and now recovering from jittery declines), credit rating upgrades, low inflation and improved business confidence rankings, among others. While the country’s economy is certainly in better shape than it was several years ago, there is a consensus though that there is need to make these economic gains felt by more Filipinos. Even President Aquino himself has publicly spoken of this.

Basing from the discussions we’ve just had, this forum has given Management, led by President Buenaventura, a lot of inputs on how we can make our programs more relevant and attuned to the times.

The bottom line is that as a government financial institution, DBP must do its share in raising the competitiveness of the economy to be an instrument of national economic development policy. The Bank’s projects should always be in sync with the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan. Our programs must generate economic opportunities for as many Filipinos as possible, particularly those residing in the countryside. We should take the cue from President Aquino who recently emphasized a greater focus on rural development. Economic growth must be felt both in the highly urban centers, and in the rural areas.

It is in this context that I challenge our marketing officers in the branches to be more proactive in finding those catalytic projects that will stimulate more business activity and growth in their areas. We need more projects for the MSME sector, seeing that this sector forms the backbone of our economy and creates a lot of jobs. We must be more aggressive in financing key sectors that generate jobs like tourism, manufacturing and agriculture. Let’s push for DBP’s infrastructure and logistics program given that the country needs to improve its infrastructure to make it a more ideal investment destination.

Our Finance Secretary, Mr. Purisima, suggested in one meeting with the DBP Board that our regional marketing centers and branches can be centers of excellence. Perhaps this should be the mindset. For instance, as the LGU lender, DBP is present in the countryside not just to lend money but to work with LGUs to build institutional capability, helping them to craft projects that are not only sustainable but also integrated into the national development agenda. This is the true nature of development financing, the niche where the branches can aspire for excellence.

I’d like to mention that President Buenaventura himself has said many times that DBP’s natural market is government itself and we should be conscious of the eco-systems around it as our market.. And that we need to go further to better define this market.
It may not be obvious to all, but the institutions represented in this Developmental Forum have one thing in common. We are all in the same development loop for the country. We have NEDA setting macro development policies; ADB providing financial facilities for its fight against poverty; and PIDS underpinning development strategies with focused research and studies. We in DBP can benefit from this development loop by identifying bankable programs and projects in the framework of inclusive growth.

What’s next? I was told that the DBP Developmental Forum will be rolled out in the regions in the future, with topics that are relevant to the communities. I am excited for our people in the branch network as they will gain more insights and knowledge on issues that have an impact on their roles as development bankers and LGU specialists and sales people.
I’d like to end my closing remarks by reminding ourselves of our starting point, and that is the DBP charter. It states that our objective is “to provide banking services principally to service the medium and long-term needs of agricultural and industrial enterprises, particularly in the country-side and preferably for small and medium-scale enterprises. Provided, however, that the pursuit of these objectives shall be undertaken within the context of a financially viable and stable banking institution”.

Again, thank you for participating in today’s activities, and I look forward to seeing you in the next DBP Developmental Forum.

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