Stronger public-private partnership sought

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
Stronger public-private partnership sought
Lance Gokongwei
STAR / File

To revitalize manufacturing sector

MANILA, Philippines — Tycoon Lance Gokongwei, president and chief executive officer of conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Inc., is pushing for a stronger alliance between the government and private sector in revitalizing the manufacturing sector as the backbone of national industrialization.

Speaking at the BusinessWorld Economic Forum yesterday, Gokongwei said manufacturing, as the engine of the economy, has the highest multiplier effect.

“However, I believe its fullest potential in the Philippines has yet to be tapped. Since the 1980s, our economic growth has been mainly led by the services sector,” Gokongwei said.

“We need our economy to start standing equally on the two pillars of industry and services,” he said.

Gokongwei believes that a government-business strategy to boost manufacturing, which targets both the international and domestic markets, can spark the creation of more upstream and downstream businesses, as well as more economic wealth and more quality and gainful employment for the country’s growing working age population.

“It can also strengthen our role in the global supply chain while making us more self-reliant amid external pressures,” he said.

For Gokongwei, the country’s industrialization hinges on the government and private sectors jointly identifying and agreeing on the manufacturing industries that need to be developed.

He said these industries should then be supported by enabling policies and incentives.

“And needless to say, the bid to become a manufacturing economy also relies on our ability to equip our work force with the increasing demands of the emerging industrial and technological landscape,” Gokongwei said.

Early this year, JG Summit through its petrochemical unit JG Summit Olefins Corp. inaugurated its expanded manufacturing facility in Batangas.

The world-class integrated manufacturing complex is the Philippines’ largest wholly owned petrochemical investment and houses the first and only naphtha cracker plant in the country.

Gokongwei said the world-class integrated petrochemical plant represents JG Summit’s commitment to help build a strong and resilient Philippine economy through the growth of a self-reliant and thriving industry sector.

Built at a cost of over P150 billion, he said the plant is the group’s biggest investment in a single business.

“This sizeable investment is borne out of our firm belief that a strong local petrochemical manufacturing base will support the revitalization of Philippine industry and help the country move up the global value chain,” he said.

Petrochemicals, according to Gokongwei, are the building blocks essential to the manufacture of goods such as food packaging, clothes, electronic gadgets, vehicles, furniture, appliances and medicines, among others.

“A stable and thriving domestic petrochemical industry will guarantee a steady supply of critical manufacturing ingredients to scale up our manufacturing competitiveness that, in turn, will generate more jobs and create prosperity,” he said.

However, Gokongwei said JG Summit’s petrochemicals business is currently facing a double whammy of increasing input prices due to high oil prices and rampant overcapacity, including exports out of China for petrochemicals.

“I think what we need to do is we do need to work with the government. We need to develop a manufacturing policy to support vital industries in the Philippines, including the petrochemical industry,” Gokongwei said.

“We’re doing everything we can. We’ve invested in value-added of our plant. But we do need support and assistance from the government, particularly in looking at illegal dumping and other unfair trade measures,” he said.

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