B&R initiative offers prospects for Philippines’ economic plans

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China’s Belt and Road initiative will bring great chances for the Philippines to implement its “Dutertenomics”, an economic strategy unveiled by the Philippine government to transform its economy, Philippine officials attending a forum on Monday agreed.

The forum on Dutertenomics and the Belt and Road initiative was hosted by the Philippine delegation attending the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation started on May 14 in Beijing.

They believed that as the core of the Dutertenomics is to create jobs and stimulate economy through dozens of major infrastructure projects, the Belt and Road initiative put forward by China will offer tremendous opportunities for the Philippines in terms of infrastructure upgrading, poverty alleviation and job creation.

Government officials including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Secretary Carlos Dominguez of the Department of Finance, Director-General Ernesto M. Pernia of National Economic and Development Authority, Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management, Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation, and Chairperson of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority talked about their suggestions on how to align the two proposals.

On the forum, the Philippines’ goal of economic growth in 2017 was declared to be 6.5% to 7.5%, and the goal for the period from 2018 to 2022 has been set at 7% to 8%.

To realize the target, the country has launched a large-scale infrastructure projects named “Build! Build! Build!”, based on which an estimated 8.4 trillion pesos ($170 billion) would be invested on the construction of infrastructures.

About 20% of the capital will be raised through foreign loans. In addition, the Duterte administration’s infrastructure spending would reach 7.4% of GDP by 2022.

Tugade introduced a batch of domestic infrastructure construction projects such as the Luzon Expressway, Mindanao Railway, Manila’s Metro Rail, new terminal of Clark International Airport and Subic-Clark Railway, to the attendees.

He also announced a plan to build the city of Clark, 80 kilometers to the north of Manila, into a new urban center, in a bid to relieve the traffic burden of the capital city. So far, the country has kicked off the planning and construction of the new city.

Tugade said Chinese investment is welcomed in the Philippines, and he appreciated China’s $75 million non-reimbursable assistance to build bridges spanning the Pasig River to help relief the traffic burden in Manila.

Improved relations with China have brought the Philippines a massive opportunity for development, said Ricardo L. Saludo, Managing Director of Center for Strategy, Enterprise & Intelligence.

The Philippines can connect its ongoing massive infrastructure planning with the Belt and Road initiative, which advocates integration and interconnectivity, to attain new impetus for the country’s economic development, he added.

An international transportation pivot surrounding the Subic Port and the Clark Airport is being planned, Saludo disclosed. The sea-air transport system will serve as an international center for transportation and logistics abreast of Singapore and China’s Hong Kong.

By then, the Philippines will benefit from the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road by shipping Chinese products to Indonesia, Australia and even the whole world, Saludo noted.

By Yu Jinghao from People’s Daily/NewsGhana.com.gh