Invest locally in Medical Tourism, avoid risks globally, Neri tells Pinoys in Philippines

FORMER National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) director general Romulo Neri on Thursday advised Filipinos to think very, very hard before investing outside the country, citing the instability of the financial system in the wake of the global financial crisis that started in the United States.

Instead, Neri, who now heads the Social Security System (SSS), encouraged Filipino businessmen to invest locally, such as in infrastructure development, which he said will stimulate the Philippine economy.

“Now is not the best time to invest outside the country. It is better to invest here in the country rather than in any other country. At this time, we can’t trust the financial system of other countries,” he told reporters at the SSS Seminar for Media under the theme “SSS Visualizing the Future.”
Neri said the SSS is even keen on lending P12.5 billion of its funds to the government, provided that a government guarantee and good interest rate is offered back to SSS.

The SSS, he said, relies heavily on members’ contributions, explaining why the agency is focusing on improving its services to the members. It will continue to improve its information technology, and is now in the process of producing a multipurpose ID for its members, where cardholders can do more than just paying or checking their contribution status, but also transact business with Pag-Ibig, among others.

“Since it is the members’ contribution that we are going to invest, we need assurance. But we are confident this investment will help stimulate the economy. We encourage investments in infrastructure projects rather, like roads and bridges,” he said.

In his presentation, entitled “Value Creation in the Face of Global Recession,” Neri said the P330-billion economic-stimulus fund of the government should be invested in infrastructure, tourism, medical tourism, green technology, education and health.

Quezon City, he said, is an ideal place to develop medical tourism, considering that some of the country’s biggest hospitals are situated in the area.

He said the challenges include stimulating and sustaining domestic demand, investing in value creation, job generation, and mitigating the impact on the poor and vulnerable sector.