Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced British telco giant Vodafone is exploring the possibility of entering the country’s telecommunications market as the new major player.
On Wedneday, the head of the Department of Budget and Management said the prospect of Vodafone entering as the third telecommunications player were some of the highlights of the Duterte administration’s economic team’s meetings with the British business sector last week to encourage more investments and partnerships from Europe.
Diokno, however, clarified Vodafone has not officially expressed interest yet but “they want to come in, in a big way.”
“We just discussed the possibilities. We told them we are introducing the third telco and we are welcoming proposals,” Diokno said at a breakfast forum in Pasig City. “They are making their due diligence and they are trying to find out if it is worth their while to participate.”
Diokno noted Vodafone may participate in the ongoing selection of the third telco player or partner with a local telco and added the UK telco giant wanted to make sure their reputation will be protected as “they don’t want to get involved in shady deals.”
“Vodafone officials raised concerns on the ease of doing business in the Philippines, which the cabinet secretaries were quick to address by stating that the President has signed the Ease of Doing Business Act early this year,” he said.
The local companies that so far expressed intent to participate in the third telco initiative are PT&T, Now Corp., Converge ICT, Transpacific-Broadband and TierOne.
The foreign firms identified by the DICT are China Telecom, KT Corp., LG U+, KDDI Corp., Vietnam Telecom, Telenor and AT&T.
Because the industry is considered a duopoly dominated by rivals PLDT and Globe, calls have been made by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte and the public at large for a third telco player to raise the quality of service while lowering the costs to consumers
At the same time, Diokno said he met with top officials from the HSBC in United Kingdom where he underscored the country’s strong and robust macroeconomic fundamentals which will allow the Philippines to position itself as the next investment hub in Asia.
“In line with our twin goals of pushing growth to seven to eight percent annually and reducing poverty from 21 to just 14 percent, we are doing our best to attract foreign investments to help us with our economic and development agenda,” he explained.
The Philippine delegation also sought education and government partnerships as the Budget Secretary, together with Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia through a meeting with school administrators from the London School of Economics.
“A possible partnership also with London School of Economics on scholarships for government employees and the optimistic outlook of many investor groups for the Philippines, especially in the light of the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program,” Diokno said.
Likewise, Diokno met with Fung Siu of the Economist Intelligence Unit to explain the Philippines’ macroeconomic outlook and address other issues related to the country’s economic policies.
“The United Kingdom is a suitable partner for the Philippines, both in terms of business and education,” the Budget Chief said.
“We look forward to stronger economic ties with the British community,” he added.
With Joshua Lao