‘Dutertenomics’ seen to usher in ‘golden age of infrastructure’
If former president Benigno Aquino III had “Aquinomics” that cemented the Philippines’ status as “Asia’s rising star” under an administration that sustained robust economic growth by fighting graft and corruption, make way for “Dutertenomics” under President Duterte’s watch in the next six years, which is seen ushering in a “golden age of infrastructure.”
In a statement Sunday, the Department of Finance (DOF) said it, together with the Presidential Communications Operations Office, will hold a forum Tuesday on “Dutertenomics” and the administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda ultimately aimed at reducing the poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 from 21.6 percent in 2015.
The Duterte administration’s 10-point agenda also targets to make the country a middle-income economy by the end of the President’s term, the DOF said.
The upcoming “The Dutertenomics Forum” will “showcase the government’s unprecedented infrastructure program as a tool of eradicating poverty and realizing the other goals spelled out in the President’s 10-point reform strategy,” according to the DOF.
The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, which serves as the administration’s development blueprint, took off from the 10-point socioeconomic agenda.
The PDP 2017-2022 targets 7-8 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the medium term, with economic expansion seen trickling down and benefiting more Filipinos, state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) had said.
As for job creation, the PDP 2017-2022 wanted to reduce unemployment to as low as 3-5 percent by 2022 from 5.5 percent at present, according to Neda.
During the forum, economic managers led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III will launch the website www.build.gov.ph, which the DOF said will contain “information on government infrastructure contracts as well as drone images showing the progress of big-ticket infrastructure projects.”
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno had said that part of the plan to make the six years of the Duterte administration a so-called “golden age of infrastructure” was spending P847.2 billion or 5.2 percent of GDP on infrastructure this year.
The budget for infrastructure expenditures in 2017 accounted for a fourth of the total and was 13.8-percent biggest than last year’s program.
By 2022, the infrastructure spending-to-GDP ratio had been programmed to reach 7.4 percent.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia had said that Duterte administration had programmed to spend up to P9 trillion on public infrastructure from 2017 to 2022.
Pernia, who heads Neda, last month unveiled the plan to pitch for President Duterte’s approval a list of 55 flagship, “game-changing” projects that the administration aims to rollout and complete before 2022.
The Duterte administration “will change the landscape with game-changing infrastructure,” Pernia said last month.
By “flagship” projects, Pernia had said that Neda was eyeing those that will encourage additional other projects in the localities. “These will be catalytic projects.”
Neda officials had said these proposed flagship projects will also focus on spurring development outside of Metro Manila to “encourage moving out of Manila-centric development.”
While Neda officials had declined to name specific projects pending the President’s approval, they had said Neda was eyeing “big” projects, including bridges that will connect islands across the archipelago, airports and ports, among others.
The comprehensive list will cover projects to be funded not only by development partners such as the Chinese and Japanese governments as well as multilateral lenders including the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the World Bank but also by the annual national budget, according to Neda officials.
These projects will be submitted for confirmation and potential approval by the Neda Board chaired by President Duterte, Pernia had said.
Also last month, Dominguez said the Duterte administration will roll out P326-billion worth of infrastructure projects this year.
“On the part of this administration, we want to reshape our nation’s development so that it is investments-led. When growth is investments-led, it tends to be more inclusive, more sustainable and more effective in bringing down poverty rates,” Dominguez said in a speech before members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
To achieve investment-led growth, Dominguez had said it was important to “bring up the quality of our infrastructure backbone to match those of our neighbors.”
“As we improve on those factors that made our economy unattractive to investments–namely: costly energy, poor infrastructure, restrictive economic policies, corruption and uncertainty over contracts–we expect investments to play the driving role in our economic expansion. The administration envisions P1 trillion a year in infrastructure investments. This alone should help sustain our growth momentum,” Dominguez had said.
As the Philippines pivots more to its neighbors, the government expects “substantial” investment inflows, especially from China and Japan, to be poured into big infrastructure projects in the coming months, according to Dominguez.
“This year, we expect to start big railway projects such as the Clark-Subic Rail, Tutuban-Clark Rail, the 581-kilometer south line of the North South Railway Project connecting Tutuban, Calamba, Batangas and Bicol. We already began construction of the Panguil Bay Bridge. And this year, we will also see the groundbreaking of the Clark International Airport, the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit, and three bridges across Pasig River, two of which will be built under Chinese grants. We are also closely working with our Chinese partners to finally start the construction of the Kaliwa Dam and Chico River Dam this year,” Dominguez had said.
The Finance chief had assured that infrastructure development will reach the countryside.
“After 2017, President Duterte’s administration will start the construction of long-span bridges between Bicol and Samar, between Leyte and Surigao and finally make land travel between Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao possible. The construction and rehabilitation of key regional airports will also ease travel among our regions. Projects like the Mindanao Rail, an almost 2,000-kilometer railway that will connect key Mindanao cities will be a big boost to the economy of those regions which need it the most,” Dominguez had said.
“While we plan to invest more outside Mega Manila, we will address the congestion here through projects such as the Mega Manila Subway, almost a dozen more bridges across Pasig River, and the development of Clark Green City to attract businesses and people out of the Mega Manila area,” according to Dominguez.
“This is a long list because we have a lot of catching up to do with our neighbors. But you can count on this administration to be aggressive in building these infrastructure,” Dominguez had said.
Unlike the previous administration, the Duterte government will fast-track infrastructure rollout, the Finance chief had said.
“When I said we will start these projects, we do not mean just bidding out projects, signing contracts, or attending opening ceremonies. In this administration, ‘start’ means groundbreaking and actual construction. We will no longer tolerate the wishy-washy promises that implementing agencies have been accustomed to making in the past,” Dominguez had said.
Dominguez had noted of the big value-added to the economy of improved infrastructure. “Acceleration of our infrastructure program will translate into more financing opportunities for our banks, more work for our outstanding construction companies and certainly more business for our insurance companies as well. With the new highways and railways to be built over the next few years, there will be many opportunities for property development.” JE
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