An investment and economic czar to push fast forward

An investment and economic czar to push fast forward

This administration is ending the year with a pivotal move on the economic front.

On Dec. 15, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. issued Executive Order 49 that created the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs (OSAPIEA).

The new office will advise the President on economic concerns based on the most recent economic data, market trends and economic developments as well as help identify priority programs, activities, and projects in coordination with the economic development group.

The OSAPIEA will supervise and monitor, on behalf of the President, the economic agencies of the government including the Department of Finance, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Trade and Industry, as well as their respective agencies.

The secretary of the OSAPIEA will head the economic team, in effect functioning at a higher post than the secretaries of Finance and of NEDA.

Needless to say, the choice of who becomes the head of the OSAPIEA is at once prominent and crucial, imbued with crafting policy and setting a strategic direction for the Philippine economy.

The first secretary of the office, Robinsons Land President and CEO Frederick D. Go, is an excellent choice. His talent and impeccable record as an industry leader is a valuable infusion to what was once dubbed as the economic “dream team” of the administration.

Under Mr. Go’s leadership, Robinsons Land significantly grew in asset size and expanded its portfolio such that it now includes a mix of shopping malls, office buildings, hotels and resorts, industrial facilities, and mixed-use developments.

Mr. Go in fact has been serving since the start of this year, the personal choice of President Marcos as the Presidential Adviser on Investment and Economic Affairs. In this advisory capacity, he vigorously worked on boost the country’s economy and create more job opportunities by pushing for investments in a diverse range of industries, including agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, digitalization, tourism, mining and the electronics sector. He also emphasized the importance of positioning the electronics sector to capture the growing exodus of foreign manufacturers out of China.

As the new czar of the economic team, Mr. Go faces a daunting task ahead. We wish to convey our support for and confidence in him.


The Philippines has been a consumer-driven economy for a long time. This has its merits, but as we have seen over the years, it also has its adverse consequences. It has exposed our vulnerability to external developments, specifically to geopolitical tensions and unforeseen risks. Disruptions of the global supply chain could paralyze the mobility of goods and drive prices higher.

And while the volume of our trade with the rest of the world has been robust, we have been incurring a trade deficit for years, and the countries from where we import derive more economic benefits from our importation. Meanwhile, local industries suffer from the deluge of cheap consumer goods from other countries.

The Stratbase ADR Institute has been advocating a pivot to investment-led growth for quite some time now. Investments have a great multiplier effect — think infrastructure, jobs, income — and allow the economy to grow resiliently and sustainably. Specifically, the manufacturing sector has a lot of room to grow, and it can potentially usher in the kind of growth that the Philippines needs in order to take its rightful place in the world market.

The challenge, then, is to encourage and keep investments. Good governance is the central thrust. Our rules have to be consistent, their application fair and even, the regulatory environment predictable. Transparency and advocacy must be the norm, with red tape, graft and corruption eliminated. Technology must be employed as an ally to achieve efficiency and minimize human discretion that could open opportunities for irregularity.

There have been some initiatives to this end. For example, the Philippines has implemented “green lanes” for strategic investments, expediting the permit and license acquisition process. There is also Executive Order 32, which streamlines the permitting process for the establishment of telecommunication infrastructure.

Secretary Go, having spent at least three decades in the private sector, is aware of the realities and struggles of the private sector on the ground, especially in how they deal with the national and local government to see their projects through. He knows firsthand how important multisectoral collaboration and partnerships are — and how to effectively navigate the dynamics of competing interests to achieve the strategic objective.

We laud the President’s decision to appoint Mr. Go at the OSAPIEA. He is no stranger to the mutually reinforcing relationship between the government and the private sector, which is recognized by Filipinos to have a pivotal role in national development, serving as a dynamic engine for economic growth, innovation, and employment generation.

The times ahead are challenging, but also exciting. We already know the destination: to have a resilient, sustainable economy powered by investments, toward a prosperity that is felt by all. With a wise appointment and a policy strategy backed by actual experience, we are a little more hopeful that our economic team would be in a better position to steer us in that direction.

Let make a Philippine economic boom happen in 2024.


Victor Andres “Dindo” C. Manhit is the president of the Stratbase ADR Institute.