Remarks by Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner, Puerto Princesa City Investment Forum and Launch of Online Payments

Thursday, March 28, 2019

[As Prepared]

[Greetings]

It is my honor to be here today for the Puerto Princesa City Investment Forum and launch of the city government’s online payment services.

I represent the United States Agency for International Development, popularly known as USAID. USAID is the lead U.S. government agency for international development and disaster assistance.

I have been here for eight months and in that time I have seen the close relationship between the Government of the Philippines and U.S. government.

This relationship is built on a deep friendship between our peoples that spans decades, built on strong people-to-people relationships stemming from family ties, shared values, tourism, and cultural exchange.

This relationship is based on a long-standing partnership to work together to address development challenges in the Philippines, promote bilateral trade and commerce, and address regional political issues.

And this relationship is based on an alliance that supports our mutual security, enables continued freedom of navigation, and upholds the defense of our shared values and liberty. The United States and the Philippines truly are friends/partners/allies.

This is my first time in Palawan, and even through this short visit I can already see why so many are drawn to both the beauty of the province and the warmth of the people.

I would like to congratulate the Puerto Princesa City government, led by Mayor Bayron, and our partners from the private sector on today’s important milestones. The achievements we celebrate today will make Puerto Princesa City more competitive and heighten its growth trajectory.

Puerto Princesa City has been among the U.S. government’s steadfast partner cities and has shown tremendous commitment to inclusive growth, resilience and responsiveness to residents’ needs.

Through our Cities Development Initiative, USAID has joined Puerto Princesa City on its journey to strengthen economic growth, environmental protection, education, democracy and governance so that your city can fulfill its potential as an engine of inclusive and resilient growth in the region.

USAID and Puerto Princesa share the belief that economic growth is essential to sustainable, long-term development.

This growth creates the opportunities households need to raise their living standards, provides countries with the resources to expand access to basic services, and — most important of all — enables citizens to chart their own prosperous futures.

Today’s event is a demonstration of USAID’s close partnership with the Philippine government through two USAID projects that are working to boost business opportunities for local entrepreneurs, and to offer digital solutions that will make the city’s financial transactions more convenient, transparent and efficient.

Through our Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity, project, USAID and the city government have worked with the private sector to identify key sectors that will bolster conditions for inclusive and resilient economic growth.

For example, our work enhances investment promotion capabilities here in Puerto Princesa to attract tourists and local and international investors.

Private sector and civil society engagement are critical to promoting inclusivity and accountability of all stakeholders, and ultimately, advancing sustainable, long-term development.

In line with this, our work fosters private sector and civil society participation in the development of an investment road map and investment promotions marketing plan for the city.

Through our E-PESO project, USAID is partnering with Puerto Princesa City to shift to electronic payments, which will make doing business easier, faster and more efficient.

Electronic payments, or e-payments, will enable citizens to access digital payment products, and thus contribute to greater financial inclusion and more economic activity.

E-payments will make revenue collection more efficient. This system will streamline workflows, improve transparency and reduce the city government’s vulnerability to human errors and misuse of government funds.

E-payments also reduce operational costs. I understand that the city government saved up to 250,000 pesos when it shifted some of its employees’ payroll disbursements from cash to electronic in 2017.

And as the city transitions more transactions to electronic payments, this will mean more savings that can be used to enhance public services for citizens.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, e-payments will help improve the lives of people.

E-payments will mean less time spent waiting in line to pay for business permits, taxes and government fees, enabling residents to not only access more easily these services, but also maximize their time with their work or families.

Again, I congratulate everyone who worked hard to reach these milestones. I look forward to seeing how these important developments will further improve the lives of all Filipinos not only here in Puerto Princesa, but in the entire country.

The U.S. government remains a committed partner of the Philippine government and the private sector in advancing inclusive economic growth in Puerto Princesa City and the region. Together we are moving closer to our vision of a more prosperous Philippines, one that is responsive to citizens’ needs.

Maraming salamat.

Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 10, 2019

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