Mr. Cesar Purisima is an Asia Fellow at the Milken Institute. Previously, he was Secretary of Finance for the Philippines and chair of the economic development cluster of President Benigno Aquino's Cabinet. Under his six-year tenure, the Philippine economy grew at an average of 6.2% — the fastest pace in four decades. He restored market confidence, boosting credit ratings 24 times to land the Philippines a notch above investment grade as the world's most upgraded sovereign. He also restructured a more resilient debt position, with debt down to 44.8% of GDP — the lowest in comparable historical data, and tempered annual deficits to below 2% of GDP.
Tax revenues were raised by almost double under his watch, expanding the national budget from P1.54 trillion in 2010 to P3.002 trillion in 2015. This allowed the Philippines to grow the following budgets: health by 336%, education by 125%, social services budget by 166%, and infrastructure by 365% over the course of six years, in what has been an unprecedented abundance of public investments in the country's history.
Mr. Purisima has been widely recognized for his efforts in turning the sick man of Asia into its newest bright star, having been awarded Finance Minister of the Year by various international institutions six consecutive times in six years. He was named Finance Minister of the Year seven times — twice by Emerging Markets and once by Euromoney and the Banker, twice again by FinanceAsia, and most recently by Global Markets (formerly Emerging Markets) — for six consecutive years, a first for the Philippines.
At the end of his term, Mr. Purisima was awarded the Order of Lakandula by President Aquino, the highest civilian award given by the Philippine Government.
Previously, Mr. Purisima was also Secretary of Finance from February to July 2005, and Secretary of Trade and Industry from 2004-2005, where he worked on negotiating the landmark Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, expanded the Business Process Outsourcing and medical tourism sectors, and facilitated the geographic and product diversification of Philippine exports.
In 1999, at age 39, he became the youngest Chairman and Managing Partner of Sycip, Gorres, Velayo & Co, the Philippines' largest and oldest accounting firm. Subsequently in 2002, he became a member of the Global Executive Board and Global Practice Council of Ernst & Young.
Mr. Purisima received his bachelor’s degree in commerce, major in accounting and management of financial institutions at the De La Salle University in 1979 and subsequently topped the licensure examinations for Certified Public Accountants that same year. He completed his MBA in international economics, finance, and marketing at Northwestern University in 1983.