Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured the public that despite the strong economic headwinds facing the country, it remains primed to regain its growth momentum on the back of a surge in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows and sustained spending on the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
Mindanao, for instance, has now started to get its fair share of big-ticket infrastructure investments under a President who hails from this island, thus reversing the chronic official neglect of the South and further enhancing its potential as a major engine of growth, Dominguez said.
According to Dominguez, these strategic infrastructure projects include Mindanao’s first railway system linking its major cities, which will spell a large economic boom for the island; new power plants that will remove a key hindrance to industrial investments and job-creating enterprises; and an extensive road and bridge network in northwestern Mindanao to improve its agriculture and industries, among other investments.
“We are ready to grow. Be assured that, regardless of short-term challenges, this administration is determined to push through with its strategy for economic growth. That strategy is something we need to do at this time to take advantage of growth opportunities in the larger region we belong to,” Dominguez said in a speech read for him by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Emilio Aquino during the 58thanniversary celebration of the La Hermandad Zamboangueña Foundation held recently in Makati City.
The La Hermandad Zamboangueña Foundation is an organization formed 58 years ago by a group of civic-minded Zamboangueños residing in Metro Manila. The most notable among its numerous projects is its scholarship program for students of Western Mindanao.
Dominguez called on the members of the organization to help the government in implementing its economic strategy, especially for Mindanao, by helping Zamboanga City realize its potential as an “important nexus of our country’s economic progress.”
The Foundation, for instance, can help mobilize private investments and encourage tourism in Zamboanga City, Dominguez said.
“I trust in the diligence and industriousness of the people of Zamboanga. I am sure you will seize the opportunities offered by our growth strategy. I am confident you will effectively lead in the economic development of this area,” Dominguez said.
He said the strong headwinds facing the economy, notably the elevated inflation rate, were triggered by food supply issues, the strong US dollar and the spike in global oil prices, none of which are permanent infirmities.
“We remain among the strongest economies in Asia. We are poised to recover our growth momentum, aided by investments in modernizing our infrastructure and strong inflows of foreign direct investments,” Dominguez said.
The Finance chief, however, pointed out that “Government can only improve the conditions for doing business. It is for the private sector to take advantage of all the opportunities opened by economic investments made by government.”
He said the “Build, Build, Build” program would not have been possible without the fiscal space created by many years of adept public finance management. This fiscal space was widened even more with the passage of the first package of reforms under the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP).
“Those reforms boosted revenues and empowered our government to push ahead with the infrastructure program,” Dominguez said.
The remaining tax reform packages, which include reforms in corporate taxation and modernization of the fiscal incentives regime, “will encourage investments and ensure a level playing field for our enterprises” and “reduce the vagaries that discouraged investments in the past.”