ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Economic team bills PHL as Asia's next economic powerhouse
Philippine economic managers on Tuesday billed the country as "the next economic powerhouse of Asia" to achieve upper middle income status.
During the Philippine Economic Forum in Singapore, the economic team cited the likelihood that the Philippines will hit its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of 7 to 8 percent by 2022, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Investor Relations Office (IRO).
The robust and sustained growth would yield the country its targeted per-capita gross national income of at least $5,000 by 2022 from $3,550 in 2015, it added.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, together with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. presented the Duterte administration's economic strengths before about a hundred investors during the forum.
President Rodrigo Duterte's Build, Build, Build program was the highlight of the briefing, as well as other growth drivers such as higher public spending on social services, strong household consumption on the demand side, rising activities in manufacturing, business process outsourcing, real estate, construction, wholesale and retail trade, and tourism on the supply side.
Filipinos with an average of 24 years old as will carry the growth in productivity over the next decade, the Philippine officials noted.
Finance secretary Dominguez said the Philippines was primed to play a key role in the vibrant growth of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community.
"The Duterte administration is looking at increased private sector participation in the financing of its projects meant to close the infrastructure backlog, attract investments, create jobs, and achieve financial inclusion,” he said.
Dominguez said the Philippines is looking at grants and official development assistance for the Build, Build, Build program as it invites greater involvement of private investors in the projects.
“We have also endorsed for congressional approval a comprehensive tax reform program that is designed to help provide a steady revenue flow, not only for this ambitious infrastructure program but also for the Duterte administration's programs on human capital development and social protection that are geared to accelerate poverty reduction in the medium-term,” Dominguez added.
Socio Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also told the forum participants the current administration espouses "sound and growth-enabling" policies such as the freedom of information, anti-corruption initiatives, and faster approval of big-ticket infrastructure projects.
He said policies are geared to make the Philippines a more welcoming business environment.
On the other hand, Budget Secretary Diokno endorsed the Build, Build, Build program, which accounts for a large bulk of the 2018 budget.
The government is set to spend between $160 billion and $170 billion during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Diokno said the massive infrastructure program aims to decongest urban areas and spread growth opportunities in the provinces to attract more investment.
“Our infrastructure program is the boldest the Philippines has ever had. With the amount of money we will infuse on expressways, airports, seaports, mass transit systems, among others, the Philippines will enter its Golden Age of Infrastructure," Diokno said.
"Ambitious as it may sound, the government is keen on realizing this infrastructure agenda,” he added.
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