SUBIC BAY FREEPORT , Philippines – Philippine economic managers, together with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) officials, urged the Central Luzon business community to take advantage of the stable and resilient economic environment created by the government in past years through tough economic reforms.
This was the call made on Thursday by the economic team and BSP officials during their stop here, the sixth of the seven-destination tour over the course of the month as part of the domestic roadshow on the Philippine economic briefing to share with local business communities how the government is addressing challenges arising from the global economic crisis and to provide an outlook for the national and local economies this year.
In their presentations, Finance Secretary Gary Teves, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto, Budget and Management Undersecretary Laura Pascua, Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano, Energy Undersecretary Roy Kyamko, Trade and Industry Region 3 Director Blesila Lantayona and NEDA Region 3 Director Remigio Mercado outlined the measures the government will take to ensure the country is well-positioned for growth.
They also discussed the challenges and opportunities for both the public and private sectors this year.
Teves said that the government’s fiscal reform program has created a buffer for the country by generating revenues that are now being invested into the infrastructure and social services sectors to ensure the economy remains buoyant. But he said government cannot do it alone.
“We call upon the leaders of our private sector to take up the challenge to support the country by continuing to invest in our nation’s future and by working with us to ensure that our nation’s limited resources are able to meet the objective of improving the lives of the people of the Philippines,” said Teves.
Reviewing the government’s fiscal performance, Teves said the government’s fiscal targets remained on track last year and only prudent revisions were made in this year’s fiscal program.
For this year, government expects a budget deficit of P177.2 billion, representing 2.2 percent of the GDP.
Teves said that in 2009, the government will focus on a number of revenue-enhancing measures, most notably working with Congress to pass key legislative measures, increasing tax compliance and enforcement, and working with the private sector to improve participation in revenue generation.
“It is important now more than ever to ensure that our revenues grow continuously so that we can replenish our resources. It is equally as vital that investments flow into the country, even beyond the global economic crisis,” he said.
Outlining the specific measures under the economic recovery program, Recto said the infrastructure projects will be fasttracked by increasing the absorptive capacity of agencies, namely by channeling resources to small projects that have the potential to generate employment quickly and are easy to implement, by reallocating funds from the slow-moving to fast-moving project, and by closely monitoring projects implementation to ensure the efficient allocation of resources.
These together with a number of employment programs, are expected to generate more than 800,000 new jobs and support government’s target of 3.7 to 4.4 percent GDP growth for the year.
“Amid the global economic crisis, the Philippines managed to post a GDP growth rate of 4.6 percent last year. 2009 is expected to be a more challenging year with all countries across the globe revising their forecasts. But with the increase in government spending, cooperation from the private sector, continued strength in domestic consumption and declining inflation rates, we are hopeful that we will be able to meet our target of 3.7 to 4.4. percent GDP growth this year, Rector explained.
Growth is expected in Central Luzon through gains in information and communication technology, business process outsourcing (BPO), health and wellness, logistics and port development, food, agribusiness, aquaculture, tourist destination and facilities development, ancillary services and products to locators in industrial estates and ecozones, and the One Town One Product (OTOP) program, Recto said.–Ric Sapnu, Philippine Star