The Department of Finance (DoF) said greater Asian integration and some P326 billion worth of infrastructure projects that have already begun construction, or will be built this year and the next, will stimulate the Philippine economy.
In a statement issued by the DoF on Thursday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said businesses should expect themselves to be busy starting this year as the Duterte administration rolls out its big-ticket infrastructure projects.
These projects will, in turn, boost the economy, create jobs and generate more financing opportunities for the country’s banking and insurance sectors, the statement said.
“Over the next few years, we anticipate substantial investments inflows. This is helped, to a significant extent, by commitments made both by Japan and China to assist us especially in large infra projects. Expect a palpable uptick in business activity over the next few months,” Dominguez was quoted as saying in his remarks at the recently concluded general membership meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) at the Makati Diamond Residences in Makati City.
This year, he said, the government expects 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 this year.
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 are also expected.
The DoF chief noted the government is closely working with Chinese partners to finally start the construction of the Kaliwa Dam and Chico River Dam this year.
“All these projects mentioned have a total cost of around P326 billion,” he added.
After 2017, Dominguez said the current administration will start the construction of long span bridges between Bicol and Samar and between Leyte and Surigao and make land travel across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao possible.
The construction and rehabilitation of key regional airports will also ease regional travel, while projects like the Mindanao Rail, an almost 2000-km railway that will connect key Mindanao cities, will be a big boost to the economy of regions that need it the most.
“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,” Dominguez said.
It is not only the large businesses that will benefit from the multifold opportunities that will open up in the near future, the Cabinet official noted.
“Our closer relationship with China, Japan, South Korea and the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] will translate into rapid tourism growth and bountiful export markets. This will mean stronger demand for processed food, in-person service enterprises, household items and consumer electronics,” Dominguez said.
He said “the stronger linkages we now forge with our development partners and regional neighbors will provide new drivers for the growth of our domestic economy.”
Regional airports will be rehabilitated, or new ones built, to ease travel across the country’s three island groups, while a 2,000-kilometer railway that will connect key cities and boost the economies of the country’s poor regions in Mindanao is also in the pipeline, he said.
“I am well aware that the congestion at the ports imposed heavy costs on our manufacturers, especially those whose competitiveness depends on just-in-time deliveries of both raw materials and finished products. The congestion is both an infrastructure and administrative problem. As we upgrade our port infrastructure, we should also remove unnecessary procedural hindrances to the flow of goods,” Dominguez said at the PCCI forum.
The Duterte administration is also committed to address other factors that have made the Philippine economy unattractive to investments, such as its high energy costs, restrictive economic policies, corruption and uncertainty over contracts, the Cabinet official noted.
“In a word, increasing investments in our economy requires an all-rounded strategy. It requires both adept and far-sighted governance as well as a dynamic private sector that is always ready to seize opportunities offered by the market,” Dominguez said.
“As we improve on those factors that made our economy unattractive to investments—namely costly energy, poor infra, restrictive economic policies, corruption – and we expect investments to play the driving role in our economic expansion,” he added.