Arroyo graces Cabinet meeting in Syria

December 02, 2010

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has recently graced a Cabinet meeting, not in the Philippines but in Syria which is preparing its economic and social development plan.

Arroyo, the incumbent representative of the second district of Pampanga, met the Syrian Cabinet on Wednesday to share the experience of Asia, Southeast Asia and the Philippines in dealing with the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s.

In her speech, Arroyo said the two giant countries — China and India, both populous and rich in natural resources — continue to outperform all other countries.

Meanwhile, small, export-dependent economies, also known as Asia’s tiger economies, were the worst hit by the economic crisis.

Arroyo also noted that the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam and other emerging and populous countries with high private consumption continued to enjoy positive growth throughout the global downturn.

She said the Philippines, under her term, well before the advent of the global crisis, already embarked on painful but necessary measures such as:
# fiscal reforms;
# stringent monetary stability;
# investments in major public infrastructure and education.

She said these bitter reforms led to 42 consecutive quarters of growth.

It culminated into the fastest growth rate in the Philippines in 30 years: 7.9% for January to June this year, the last six months of her administration.

The former state leader said this achievement becomes more significant considering the crises that existed during that period:
# global financial crisis;
# high oil, food, or commodity prices, and
# the various calamities hit the country.

She also said the most important challenge was to achieve balanced and inclusive growth.

She said this can be achieved by addressing the social costs that will inevitably arise as the number of the poor expands due to the quickened pace of development.

Arroyo highlighted the economic and market reforms that Syria is pursuing and its resultant double digit export growth rates and the continuous positive GDP performance of the country.

She also supported Syria’s further cultural and economic engagements with other countries.

She thanked the government of Syria for its warm diplomatic relations and courtesies accorded to the Philippines during her Presidency.

She cited the opening of the Philippine Embassy in Damascus in 2008, her State Visit in 2009 and Syria’s support in the Philippines’ bid for observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

“The world continues to be fraught with uncertainty that nations still struggling with development must look to each other for mutual support…if we take to heart the lessons of recent history, embrace the virtues of creativeness, flexibility and pragmatism, and look for the opportunities as well as the perils that reside in our interdependence, we shall be rewarded for the risk…we too shall find the path to prosperity most suited for us,” she said in her speech.

Aside from the meeting with the Syrian Cabinet, Arroyo is set to conduct dialogues with senior officials of the Syrian government and the academe to share her knowledge and experiences on economic and social development.

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