Lipa City, Batangas -- With 90 million people, the Philippines is about to overtake India and its one billion population as the world's top business process outsourcing (BPO) destination.
During a visit to the AMA Computer and Learning Center (ACLC) campus here, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the country generated BPO revenues of $7.3 billion last year, not far behind India's $9 billion earnings. This was a 300 percent increase from the start of the Arroyo administration nine years ago.
Revenues aside, employment in the industry also went up from 4,000 in 2001 to 500,000 last year.
This year, the BPO industry is projected to generate revenues of between $10 billion and $13 billion and employ one million workers.
The President recalled that in her first State of the Nation Address in 2001, she vowed to create wealth by developing labor-intensive, skills-intensive services such as ICT (information and communications technology) and tourism.
"We did it from scratch," the President said. "We created what is today a global powerhouse: the Philippine BPO industry. We achieved this by encouraging broadband service providers to invest in digital infrastructure by providing a clear policy and legal environment through the creation of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), and by developing our human capital."
The President also pointed out that investments in digital infrastructure has brought down the cost of international calls from 40 cents to two cents a minute through voice-over-Internet protocol (VOiP), resulting in the increased number of Internet users from two million to more than 24 million today.
With this VOiP technology that integrates telephony with the Internet into more than one international telecommunications gateway, "no Taiwan tremor or tsunami can cut off cyber services from their global clients," the President said.
To date, more than 5,000 public schools have computer laboratories while almost 4,000 state schools have been connected to the internet.
The President said the government already invested P35.5 billion in technical education and training skills, of which P1.69 billion went to BPO scholarships.
"Much work remains to be done, but I am determined to turn over to the new government a new Philippines ready for the challenge of giving the nation First World status in 20 years," the President said.