In four decades of technocratic work, Alfredo E. Pascual has made significant contributions to learning and society as an academic leader, corporate governance advocate, international development banker, and management educator.
Now, as president of the prestigious MAP, which has more than 1,000 CEOs as members, Fred sees his greatest opportunity to effect change for the betterment of business and the betterment of those who have less in life.
He has three main thrusts to accomplish that:
– Policy reform for economic dynamism;
– Human development and well-being;
– Shared prosperity and sustainability.
Economic dynamism is about recovery from the economy’s deepest recession ever and the worst pandemic of the century. It is about a better environment for investment, local and foreign.
It is about broadening the growth base to include small and medium enterprises, their workers, and their families.
The pandemic has wrought havoc on the economy which collapsed by 9.6% in 2020 but recovered somehow in 2021 with 5.1% expected growth. But the value of economic production is still below its 2019 value.
COVID-19 cases have hit 3.2 million, with 32,082 deaths. Active cases are 280,812. Because of Omicron, daily new cases have reached 30,000.
If Omicron continues its onslaught, it could severely stress the already decrepit health care system.
Despite the Philippines hitting a vaccination rate of half of the population, Omicron has proved itself impervious to vaccines and to immunity due to previous infection. In other words, vaccines and infection do not guarantee immunity from the Omicron virus.
The pandemic-inducted recession easily laid off 30 million workers. Most of them have not gone back to work. A third of them won’t get their jobs back.
And there are other problems.
“We must address the country’s energy security, resolve foreign ownership restrictions in critical industries, and improve the ease of doing business, to name just a few imperatives,” declared Pascual at his induction as the 73rd MAP president on Jan. 13, 2022.
Human development is about improving the human capital.
The labor force is young, at 23-24 years old. Yet, it is incompetent and illiterate. Fifteen-year-olds rank the second lowest or the lowest in the world in scores for reading, math, and science.
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They don’t know how to read nor understand or interpret what they read. They cannot compute and have very little understanding of science. The Philippines ranks poorly in the kind of education that counts these days—science, technology, engineering, and math.
Thus, the country cannot capitalize of its biggest demographic dividend—a young population that is the 12th largest on earth.
Shared prosperity is about poverty. Half of Filipinos rate themselves poor (more than double the official poverty rate of 23.7%), meaning they don’t earn P100 daily for them to have three meals or live as humans.
Shared prosperity is about a green environment, preparing the country for what is supposedly a warming world. But that is less of problem than poverty.
After all, the average global per capita contribution to pollution is 16 times that of the Philippine contribution per capita.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who chairs the local Climate Commission which President Duterte has rid of do-gooding tourists, has pledged to cut Philippine emissions by 75% by 2030.
However, 72.29% of that is conditional on the support of climate finance, technologies and capacity development provided by developed countries, as prescribed by the Paris Agreement. That means other governments and the private sector.
The remaining 2.71% cutback is to be implemented domestically, which means the government and again, the private sector. In other words, reducing pollution is primarily the private sector’s problem. And private sector means private business.
Amid the pandemic crisis, economic slump, mass poverty and joblessness is the May 9, 2022 elections to elect a new set of national leaders.
The leading candidate for president, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.—the business community does not like at all. The son of the late dictator, however, is projected to grab 50% to 60% of the 2022 votes, leaving his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, who is well-liked by business, eating dust.
“Given that 2022 is a critical election year for the country, we hope that ‘political and constitutional crisis’ is not added to this already long list,” Fred Pascual frets.
Will work with a new President
He assures that “whatever the outcome may be, we are prepared to work with the duly elected new administration and contribute to its development program for our people.”
Professionally, Pascual has a sterling record of leadership and service in his work at four esteemed national and international institutions that are fully committed to higher education and socio-economic development. He spent the past four decades working for four major institutions: the University of the Philippines, the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Asian Development Bank, and the Asian Institute of Management.
Pascual’s 19-year service at ADB enabled him to make significant contributions to progress in the Asia-Pacific region.
He pursued pioneering projects and institution-building initiatives that helped ADB respond to the region’s emerging financing needs and catalyze investments in the region’s developing economies, particularly in the infrastructure and financial sectors.
Pascual authored a strategy that provided a framework for the bank’s efforts to promote the private sector as the engine of growth in the region. He managed the first private sector project that benefited from ADB’s first loan in local currency to pioneer a new lending model.
Such loan protects borrowers from foreign exchange risk. He led the bank’s first investment that took exposure to municipal governments’ credit risk, assuming greater responsibilities for development in a decentralized governance structure.
At AIM, Pascual contributed much to the training and development of managers for the corporate and the NGO sectors of the Philippines and the rest of Asia. His innovations resulted in new courses that could respond better to the region’s emerging needs, particularly in the fields of banking and finance.
He nurtured the Advanced Bank Management Program as Program Director and attracted many bankers from several Asian countries back to school to enhance their skills. At AIM, he also served as the Faculty Chair of the Master in Business Management Program.
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