Duterte to ADB: Economic gains meaningful only if poor benefits

MANILA -- A growing economy is meaningful only if the benefits do not get stuck among the rich, but trickle down to the poor.

President Rodrigo Duterte said this at the Asian Development Bank's Host Country Dinner at EDSA Shangri-La, Mandaluyong City on Saturday. This was after the ADB had its 51st Annual Meeting in its Ortigas headquarters.

Speaking as the guest of honor, Duterte thanked the ADB for supporting the administration's various infrastructure projects, especially in Mindanao.

To me, that is the purpose and very essence of economic growth and development. The distribution of wealth is what we aim for and not the equalization of poverty, Duterte said in his speech. I wish to extend the gratitude of the Republic, though seemingly belated, to the Asian Development Bank for supporting our projects, especially those situated in Mindanao.

The President pointed out that the key element to the country's growth strategy is an ambitious infrastructure program called "Build, Build, Build". This, he said, would spur investments and lead to the country's 7.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) target by 2022.

We will bring our infrastructure base to match or even surpass those of the neighboring economies. That will allow us to [compete] for investments on even or more attractive terms, Duterte said.

Citing records, Duterte said that as of December 2017, the ADB is the country's third-largest source of official development assistance with 14 active loans and 17 grants.

He added that the cumulative assistance to the Philippines had translated to 213 public sector loans.

The Philippines, he pointed out, would continue to rely on the ADB for financial assistance, be it in the form of loans or grants.

He also expressed hope that with massive infrastructure investments, the once-neglected Mindanao would lead the nation's growth.

Official development assistance grew to unprecedented levels. The rebuilding of Marawi illustrated this. The rehabilitation of Marawi has become an international effort. We are grateful for all of the support offered and given, Duterte said.

The President also noted that Asia's development experience had shown the region that it is futile to simply mimic the West.

We have to find our own way through the challenges of the age. We will focus on policies that befit the Asian mind. We will focus on the so many things and challenges that are unique in our time, Duterte said.

Duterte also expressed confidence that the bank would be an important forum for discussing the technological horizon and what it means for emerging economies.

In closing, Duterte said that with assistance from the ADB, the Philippine government would do its part to build the truly inclusive economy that benefits Filipinos. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency