MANILA, January 6, 2005 (STAR) SPYBIZ By S.A. Maguire  -  To continue from last issue’s optimistic predictions for the new year, let’s listen to the analysts’ more appropriately-termed outlooks:

Business Risk Analyst’s Outlook

The general manager of a German bank’s outsourcing startup, who has experience in business risk analysis, said recently that they’re looking forward to more political stability. In terms of political risk, they divulged that their optimism is based on investments that have been made in the past few years. That is why they are now prepared to dismiss any talk of disruption. He admitted that there is a great attraction to the country right now. In fact, his firm sees the country as a large pool of very talented accountants.

Our past performance has done well for us. They have big plans to set up a captive shared service to serve their bank globally. Accountants here will perform all of the services for branches in London, Tokyo, Sydney, and the rest of the world. The country was chosen over India because the bank decided to do all the controlling jobs here and let India keep the software and engineering jobs. They are aware that a lot of other global banks are looking at the Philippines as well to first do the lower-end accounting work. If their business model succeeds, a lot of other banks will make a beeline to the country. They’re hiring 30 to 60 accountants at the start. By the end of the year, they’re looking at hiring 100 to 150 more. And by 2006, they plan to hire from 300 to 500.

He sees that the fiscal crisis will not disappear unless the legislature passes some real tax reforms. It is projected that the country will also see oil price fluctuations unless the US stabilizes Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.

Initially, their 2004 projections for GNP growth was under five percent but the country actually posted 6.1 percent. That was driven by the 7.1-percent growth in services like call centers. There will be greater growth in 2005 for the services industry and there will be diversification like finance and accounting, economic research, and human resources management. He is optimistic about a lot of high-value jobs in services.

While OFWs will continue to drive the economy in 2005, services will contribute its fair share. The bank is looking forward to the President’s forming of a Class A economic team with a new Finance Secretary and a prescient BSP Governor. He emphasized that Governor Buenaventura’s replacement should have a strong sense of how to manage the economy because the US is increasing interest rates, and should know as well how to navigate the economy through all these including globalization. He explained that the President doesn’t have to get involved in the day-to-day management of the economy because business wants the President to focus on leadership, to set the national vision, to set the Cabinet tasks, and to articulate what the private sector can look forward to so that business can move in the same direction as the economic team. At the end of the day, it is really leadership that business is looking for.

Political Risk Analyst’s Outlook

A political risk analyst and trustee for political and electoral reforms of a journalism center said that in terms of politics he is more optimistic about 2005. The elections gave last year an element of uncertainty. The new year gives the Administration a great opportunity to get its act together and buckle down to work. With less political turbulence, he sees that this will be a more stable and productive year for the Administration for policymaking and for evaluating our strengths and weaknesses that will enable us to compete globally. He explained that elections, political instability, and the fiscal crisis are the greatest destabilizing factors of the country.

He anticipates efforts from some people to really capitalize on FPJ’s death and his electoral protest but he assessed that people are fed up with partisan politics. His reading is that the people are in the mood to roll their sleeves and work to get this country on the right track. As a result, political agitation will not prosper much. He added there are indications that oil prices will stabilize and that Congress is seriously addressing the fiscal deficit. He suggested that the Administration should really work to pass these tax measures. He would like to see more reforms in good governance and lessening corruption.

Economically, he thinks the government should focus on balancing the budget in the next two years. He stressed that the President should wake up and fulfill her promises or else her Administration will not last its full term. The public perceives that the government is not serious in running after grafters so the President should put more teeth into this by more enforcement of the law.

Now that we have the advantage of the mystics‚ and the scientists’ perspectives, we hope this gives all of us the optimism not to chicken out from seizing opportunities this year. Remember: You must seize the moment before it seizes you.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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