The country’s economic growth should accelerate this year, although it would still remain below the outgoing government’s 6.8 percent to 7.8 percent target, incoming National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) secretary Ernesto Pernia said on Thursday.
In interview on ANC’s Headstart, Pernia said that economic growth above 6.2 percent is possible for 2016.
“That’s because half the year is over by the time we come in, and I don’t know how much we can push it [Gross Domestic Product] higher; but I think it’s probably going to be a bit higher than 6.2. I would think it would be approaching 7 percent,” he said.
The full-year growth could be “6.5, maybe 6.6 percent, in that neighborhood,” Pernia added.
But he said the incoming administration would aim to raise the country’s GDP to 8 percent in the succeeding years to catch up with the Asean neighbors.
“We have a huge growth deficit vis-a-vis our Asean neighbors. We need to grow 12 percent per annum over the next six years to catch up,” he said
Pernia said Duterte’s economic team would work to sustain growth and bridge the “huge growth deficit” between the Philippines and its Southeast Asian peers.
The country’s GDP grew 6.9 percent in the January to March period, outpacing China and beating analysts’ forecasts on election-driven demand and growing investments.
Speeding up PPP
Meanwhile, Pernia said the incoming would step up the completion of the public-private partnership (PPP) projects especially in rural areas.
“We have to get projects faster, especially PPP projects,” Pernia said as he agreed to the creation of a “super PPP center” to speed up the bidding process.
“PPP project should not be a revenue-generating activity. The purpose should be is to deliver quality projects on time and at the lowest cost,” he added.
Pernia said they would also fast track infrastructure development in the regions where the poor are concentrated.
He said the incoming administration would invest in agricultural infrastructure like irrigation and farm-to-market road.
“Those would be prioritized,” he said. “We will make sure that the implementation or the construction of a road, for example, goes speedily and within the timeframe it was supposed to meet.”