By Chino S. Leyco
The Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday that the government’s infrastructure program will provide the Philippines the stimulus it needs to keep creating jobs and opening new investment opportunities despite the global economic slowdown.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the “Build, Build, Build” initiative will create jobs and boost domestic consumption, thereby shielding the local economy from the global growth slowdown amid US-China trade war and other risks.
“The Philippine economy continues to demonstrate strength, stability and resilience in adverse conditions. We hope to sustain our growth, relying on strong domestic demand to offset the general slowdown,” Dominguez said during his meeting with some Singaporean investors at the DOF headquarters.
“Private sector participation is not only in our country’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, but also in investments that would open up as a result of our infrastructure modernization, and we think that the Singaporean investors should take a close look at that,” he added.
The “Build, Build, Build” program, President Duterte’s centerpiece plan, envisions to help the country attain its upper middle-income country status next year and maintain its “strength” and “stable macroeconomic fundamentals.”
“I think we have proven that we can chew gum and walk across the room at the same time. We can do reform and we can deliver in the field. We have done significant reforms in taxation, and we are moving forward with that,” Dominguez said.
For this reason, Dominguez invited the visiting investors from Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to consider investing in “Build, Build, Build” and other related businesses in the Philippines that would open up as a result of the ambitious infrastructure modernization program.
Led by its chairman, Teo Siong Seng, the SBF met with Dominguez and other DOF officials to know more about the business climate in the country and explore investment opportunities here. The SBF represents 25,800 companies based in Singapore.
“Even as the global economic outlook deteriorates further, we are confident that the economic stimulus provided by our infrastructure program will continue to create new jobs and be very beneficial for businesses in the sense that it will lower your logistics costs in the Philippines,” Dominguez said.
Another key advantage that the Philippines has which Dominguez said makes him “even more confident’ of the economy’s stable outlook is its young and well-educated workforce with a median age of 24 years old.
This is in sharp contrast to the aging populations of the region’s more mature industrialized countries and some ASEAN economies, such as Singapore, which can team up with the Philippines as “demographic partners” so that they can complement each other economic strengths, Dominguez said.