Duterte administration banking on infra program to sustain 7% economic growth

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is banking on its 'Build, Build, Build' infrastructure development program and four other factors to sustain 7 percent economic growth rate and become the fastest growing country in Asian region.

"We really need to address our infrastructure gap. We have the worst infrastructure in this part of the world," Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said in a media briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday.

Under the PHP3.35 trillion national budget for 2017, Diokno said the Duterte government has allocated 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) which has never been done before in the history of the country.

"We intend to ramp it up so that on the final year of President Duterte, that will be something like 7.2, 7.4 percent of GDP," Diokno said.

"So I reckon that we should be spending something like PHP8 to 9 trillion for public infrastructure," he added.

Diokno said if the country will manage to improve economic growth rate at 7 percent, the Philippines will become the fastest growing country in Asian region.

"If we become the fastest growing economy in the fastest growing region in the world and that's an honor. That would be an accomplishment," he said.

Diokno said the most ambitious infrastructure project that the government has been eyeing is to link Southern Leyte to Mindanao.

"So you can now travel by car from Luzon to Mindanao. That's an ambitious project and I think we can finance it if we just put our mind to it," the Budget official said.

He said other factors that are needed to sustain 7 percent economic growth include: peace and order, human resources, cost of doing business and competitive tax system.

"Our biggest asset, I think, is our youth. If we don't convert the youth into a productive, agile, healthy workforce then we fail. So we need to invest in the human resources," Diokno said.

Diokno said the government is already addressing the cost of doing business in the country.

"We need to cut the cost of doing business. We are ranked very low in that regard and if we want to attract foreign investors, we need to do that," he said.

Diokno said the Philippines has poor tax system compared to its Asian neighbors.

Source: Philippines News Agency