Firms urged to seize opportunities

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OTHER than attracting investments and government building the necessary infrastructure, institutions in the country can help boost growth by easing the way of doing competitive business, a top economic official said.

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“To seize economic growth opportunities, institutions must ease the way of doing competitive business,” said Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) chairman Arsenio Balisacan during the Euromoney Philippine Investments Forum held on September 6 in Taguig City.

As one of the fastest emerging economies in Asia, the Philippines can maximize economic growth opportunities through strengthening institutions that promote competition, infrastructure development, and quality human capital, he said.

The forum discussed the outlook for the country’s economy in the next six years and the economic game changers under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

“There is an explicit reference to enabling and sustaining the macroeconomic policies, including the fiscal, monetary, and trade policies, which helped the country’s economic growth in the last several years,” Balisacan said.

“The focus on social services and human capital is also very evident. The greatest threat and challenge—that is infrastructure—was also emphasized. One gets comfort that the target of 7-percent to 8-percent GDP growth is quite realistic,” he added.

However, Balisacan, who was socioeconomic planning secretary from May 2012 to January 2016, admitted that the country still faces some challenges in sustaining economic growth.

“The principal challenge for us and the most binding constraint in sustainable growth is infrastructure, especially transport, energy and telecommunications,” he said.

He said the current administration recognized this constraint under its 10-point socio-economic agenda, adding that success at directly addressing infrastructure challenge through continued public-private partnerships will pave way for a “dynamic structural transformation of economy.”

Balisacan said that having sufficient infrastructure in place is crucial to attracting investment, which would enable faster job creation.

“To increase the number of quality jobs, we need private investments. We must attract investments as a major driver of growth—investment in industries, or investment in services, or even in agriculture,” he said.

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