MAY 12, 2006
 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vowed Friday the government will continue its support for the vigorous growth of the call center and business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country with the right policies, quality manpower resource and the infrastructure needed to cut down the cost of connectivity.

In her message during the grand opening of the largest BPO Center of Teletech at Level 2, Robinsons Place, Ortigas Ave. in Cainta, Rizal this morning, the President described the development of call centers and outsourcing as one of the brightest spots of the economy because it uses the country’s greatest resource – "our people."

"Our people are our greatest resource whether they are our one million workers in Saudi Arabia or our 100,000 workers in our business process outsourcing industry," she said.

Calling the BPO industry the "new symbol of competitiveness," the President pointed out that her administration has released P500 million for high school vouchers "so that our young people can study in private high schools."

Another P500 million has been released for scholarships to center finishing schools to enable young Filipinos to cope with the manpower requirements of the industry, particularly fluency in the English language.

"We have moved up the value chain and our country will continue to support the BPO industry with the right policies," she added.

The President noted that Teletech’s hiring rate has increased to 21 percent of its applicants. "I’m very happy that Teletech has a very high hiring rate," she added.

She said the country’s telecommunications infrastructure has improved tremendously, resulting in lower cost of communication -- the key to the success of the BPO industry.

The government is determined to improve the economy and governance such as fighting graft, among others, "but there are no quick fixes and the competitiveness and the enduring drive of the Filipinos will carry us through," she said.

"We are making headway due to our good governance and fiscal performance. Our economy is in a winning streak due to the tough decisions we make," the President said, as she pointed out that the "flowback" of a growing economy would trickle down to the grassroots through enhanced basic services.

The Teletech BPO Center in Cainta, Rizal is the largest customer management center in the country. It is also Teletech’s fourth and largest center in the Philippines.

The 11,000-square meter facility houses more than 1,000 modular work stations and has world-class training rooms, e-learning laboratories, and employee-client friendly rooms.

Craig Reines, Teletech vice president and general manager for North Asia, said that by the end of 2006, Teletech expects to employ more than 10,000 Filipinos as the company expands its BPO operations to the provinces.

To date, the company employs 6,000 Filipinos in its BPO centers in Fort Bonifacio, Pasay City and Novaliches.


Claiming the competitive list released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) must have been based on old data, Malacañang pointed out Friday that the country’s competitiveness is evident in its strong macroeconomic indicators "that have caught the attention of the world."

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement that despite the Philippines’ lowly position in the list, the country nevertheless is making headway as far as the various facets of competitiveness is concerned.

"Whether this be in the area of good governance, a liberal and consistent investment policy and fiscal discipline, the Philippine economy is on a winning streak driven by tough Presidential decisions," he stressed.

Bunye was refuting the 2006 rankings compiled by the IMD which places the country as the 13th least competitive among 61 economies worldwide.

The survey, announced by IMD partner institution in the country, the Asian Institute of Management, ranked the country last or 61st in terms of basic infrastructure, 58th in terms of scientific infrastructure, 57th in education, 53rd in health environment, and 37th in technological infrastructure.

Bunye said the payback to the people is starting to flow down in terms of more jobs, infrastructure and basic social services.

"We have an expanding e-government platform that is curing graft and enabling greater efficiency and social impact for every peso spent," he explained.

Bunye admitted to certain areas that need improvement in governance and the economy, but said the Cabinet is working on these 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We know there are no quick fixes but we are confident that the competence and enterprising drive of the Filipino will carry us through," he said.

Supporting Bunye's optimism is Swiss financial giant UBS, which has upgraded its growth forecast for the Philippines this year on the back of positive developments expected to boost the economy.

In its latest report, UBS lifted its Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to 5.2 percent this year from 4.8 percent. It expects the economy to grow faster at 5.8 percent next year, from the initial 4.2 percent.

The investment bank said banking sector reforms and a recovery in the property market could serve as catalysts through increased lending. (STAR)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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