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Still Asia’s fastest-growing economy

By Jan Onghanseng
-    Jan 05, 2017
Credit : GMI Post

Despite a recent change in the country’s leadership, one thing has remained certain: the Philippines will remain the fastest-growing economy in Asia because of the government’s commitment to increase infrastructure investment and attract more foreign capital.

The new government has promised bold and swift action to further boost economic growth and spread the benefits of this growth.

“We are not afraid to come up with solutions that are out of the box and new, but we will also follow through and ensure that these solutions actually happen and are implemented quickly,” says Philippines Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) CEO Vivencio Dizon.

With (from left to right) Bases Conversion and Development Authority CEO Vivencio Dizon President Vivencio Dizon, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Villar, DPWH Undersecretary Karen Jimeno and BCDA Corporate Communications Officer Michelle San Juan-De Vera

One of the main focuses of the Duterte administration is infrastructure spending. The government believes that sustainable growth will happen with increased connectivity of the country’s main islands and the decentralization of development from the capital, Manila. Infrastructure will also address the need to draw in more investors and create more jobs.

“This will be the golden age of infrastructure in the Philippines. We are working aggressively to address the interest of companies that are considering investing in the Philippines,” says Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar.

For Department of Trade & Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, who also sits in the Board of Investments, the country is in a much better position now than before the presidential elections in the Philippines in May and in the United States in November. It has retained its position as a preferred location for investment because of the often-cited English proficiency of the workforce.

With Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo (middle) and Board of Investments Division Chief Lanie Dormiendo (left)

The Duterte administration is also working on having a leaner bureaucracy and more efficient handling of the budget. The president has given the different government departments more authority to control their budgets. The president has also expressed his commitment to lift restrictions on foreign ownership of companies and land.

On human capital, which has been the country’s strength for the longest time because of its overseas workers and the thriving BPO industry, the government believes that strengthening the so-called call center industry will contribute greatly to the reducing poverty in the country.

“We have a very young population and it would be a pity if we don’t develop them into a competent workforce. So, we are going to invest in education and social protection,” says Department of Budget Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

With Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs

Lastly, this new government is bent on eradicating corruption in government. Reflecting a pragmatic view held by many, the administration believes that cleaning up the country will save billions of pesos in costs and also create better conditions for investment.

Meanwhile, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has underscored the importance of relations between the Philippines and the United States.

“We have a shared DNA with the United States and no one can take that away. All relationships have gone through rough times, but when both sides want to restart, it is a good position to be in. The growing Philippine economy and this relationship will be good also for the U.S. because we share the same ideals of liberty and democracy,” the senator says.

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