The Noynoy Aquino administration ends in 24 hours and it is just right to give them a warm applause for a good job during the last six years.
One of the departments that contributed to the success of the PNoy administration is the Department of Finance, headed by Cesar V. Purisima. Not only is his work recognized in our country but also internationally. In his six years as Finance Secretary he received the Finance Minister of the Year Award six times!
- Finance Minister of the Year for Asia 2011 – given by the Emerging Markets
- Finance Minister of the Year 2012 – given by Euromoney
- Finance Minister of the Year for Asia 2013 – Emerging Markets
- Finance Minister of the Year for Asia Pacific 2013 – given by The Banker
- Finance Minister of the Year 2014 – given by Finance Asia
- Finance Minister of the Year 2015 – given by Finance Asia
When I teased him, “Galing naman, pinakyaw mo na yata!” he was quick to say, “It’s not me, it’s the president!” attributing it to president’s ability to walk the talk and run his government well.
I met Cesar Purisima during my investment banking days in the ‘90s when we still wore thick shoulder pads! He was with top audit firm SGV. We even went on a business trip to Singapore together for a deal we were doing for a container company. I can still recall that he was a fun person to travel with, asking the flight attendant for toys that they give to toddler passengers. When the attendant gave us a quizzical look, he said, “She (referring to me) has young kids waiting for her back home.” The FA was gracious enough to hand us a couple of toys. On our flight back home I hand-carried big shopping bags of toys, pasalubong for my boys, he and the other SGV partner Dave Balangue couldn’t help but tease me, “Of course, we have to carry these big bags for you. We’re the stevedores of Rose Fausto, not any different from the stevedores of the terminal operator we’re working on!”
He was a bachelor for the longest time and I remember setting him up with a friend of mine.
We lost touch during my full-time mom days. A few years later, Cesar went on to become the Chairman and Managing Partner of SGV. Dave succeeded him when he left to become a Cabinet Secretary under the GMA administration. And this housewife would say, “Wow! Look, ‘my stevedores’ have come a long way!”
Thanks to Facebook and a few parties attended, we reconnected and he was generous enough to be one of my readers in the book video of my now bestseller The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon. Recently, my husband Marvin and I had a foursome Fridate with him and wife Corrie, who’s a senior officer at an international bank and a director of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Society of the Philippines, where my husband also sits as an adviser. It was a fun evening with great conversation of the old days, his public service stints, his challenging back-to-private sector years after Hyatt 10 when the previous administration labeled him as “H1,” a persona non grata, to the papal visit when he rushed his toddler crossing over protocol to get the pope’s blessing, and many more. Of course, my favorite was the love story and how he hurdled the 15-year age gap, being called “sir” by Corrie’s groupmates, but I will not write much about that because I didn’t ask permission to. J And then of course, there were our stories about our respective children. We both learned from each other. I learned about the new trends in parenting these days. Playdates with other kids and a teacher-guide was not in my parenting vocabulary then. My sons just went to the park across our home where they played with the kids in the neighborhood. They asked us how we raised our sons to all grow up to be confident young men. When Marvin said, “It could well be because Rose was present and saw how to push each one the right way.” Cesar was quick to say, “Oopss… please don’t give Corrie any ideas; otherwise, this might turn out to be a very expensive dinner!”
I encouraged Cesar to write his memoirs now that he’s ending his stint with a bang. The boy from Dadiangas (now called General Santos) has definitely come a long way! His father wanted him to be a lawyer, just like him. As a preparatory course to law, he took up Accountancy at DLSU. What was intended to be a break before law school at SGV changed the course of his life and law school was not pursued anymore, but a master’s degree at the Kellogg School of Management at the Northwestern University. He later on reached the top post at as SGV’s Chairman and Managing Partner. When he entered public service, he also reached the apex as attested to by the state of the country they’re leaving behind and the numerous international awards he received. So now, he is ready for his third wind.
The Value of Good Fiscal Policy
So what do all those six awards really mean to the Filipino people? These awards recognize the prudent management of the country’s finances – both the sources and allocation, for the good of the economy. The Department of Finance (DOF) is responsible for the formulation, institutionalization and administration of fiscal policies, management of the financial resources of the government, supervision of the revenue operations of all local government units, the review, approval and management of all public sector debt, and the rationalization, privatization and public accountability of corporations and assets owned, controlled or acquired by the government.
If we compare it to a household, a well-managed financials (healthy income, expenses within budget, goal-directed investments) is the fuel that sustains the family and makes it possible for the members to attain their goals and dreams. So it is of utmost importance that the DOF Chief should do well in his job for the country to do well.
Among the positive effects of a well managed Finance Department are:
- Investment Grade Upgrades – It was the first time in Philippine history that we received Investment Grade ratings. This means that for most international investors, we are now qualified to be in their choices of investment outlets.
- Lower Interest Rates – Our borrowing costs have gone down because of the improvement of the quality of Philippine credit. At the bottom of our economic, fiscal and monetary history was the ‘80s when we were unable to meet interest payments on our foreign debt coupled with capital flight, making way for the issuance of Jobo Bills (Central bank Bills that had astronomical rates of 40% p.a.). You could just imagine the negative effect on business at that time. We are now enjoying low interest rate regime making it affordable for people to borrow money to buy houses, cars, finance businesses, etc.
- Highest GDP growth rates compared to other eras – An average growth rate of over 6% p.a. was recorded by this administration reflecting economic progress.
- Improved tax collection – The don’t-mess-with-me image of BIR Chief Kim Henares has also improved tax collections improving government coffers.
- Increased spending in education and health – Funds are allocated to fill up classroom shortages, increase attendance of students through the Conditional Cash Transfers and other incentives. The same happened in the improvement of Philhealth benefits. The positive effect of this may not be readily measurable but it has a long-term effect as they are mainly investment in our people, our most important resource.
Have we institutionalized the positive changes?
During my interview with Cesar in 2014, I asked him the question, “Can we withstand any presidency in 2016?” This was the time when everyone thought Jejomar Binay was the sure winner. This was the time when Rody Duterte was not yet a candidate. Let’s see how he answered the question:
The best and the brightest
As mentioned earlier, people are our most important resource. It is interesting to note that DOF has been enjoying an abundance of the best young minds. Cesar boasts of having hired five valedictorians from the Ateneo de Manila University, and 10 outstanding student awardees. I personally know some of these kids who opted to join him instead of accepting the more lucrative offers from multinational companies. This is also true in other departments. According to Cesar, there are around 300 top graduates who joined the government. These millennials were inspired by the outgoing administration that they were willing to take a chance, forego more lucrative offers in order to contribute to society. My hope is that this new administration that starts its term in 24 hours will also attract the best and the brightest, both young and old.
- I will be at the Radiant Grace Launch on June 30, 2016 at the GK Enchanted Farm. Radiant Grace is the new product by social entrepreneur Anna Meloto Wilk through her company Human Nature. I’m excited about this launch because of the line up of activities.
- Marvin Fausto and I will give a talk to the TGFI Singapore chapter on the Psychology of Money scheduled on July 30, 2016. Inquire with your TGFI Singapore leaders Rex Holgado and company.
Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Photos from the author and Cesar Purisima. Images from creditcardr.com, hscofficeproducts.com, philembassybrasilia.org, maniladestination.com, philembassybrasilia.org, philippineproperties101.com to deliver the message of the article.