Department of Budget and Management Secretary Dr. Benjamin E. Diokno on November 28 at the Pandesal Forum of the 77-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City announced the new “golden age of infrastructures” for the Philippines under the Duterte administration in the coming six years with a projected record-high budget of P8.2 trillion pesos to P9 trillion pesos.
Former University of the Philippines (U.P.) economics professor, Secretary Diokno said: “We are reforming and opening up the Philippine economy. Local and foreign investors are welcome to be part of the fastest-growing economy of the Philippines in the fastest-growing region in the world which is Asia.”
Among the announcements made by Secretary Diokno at the Pandesal Forum included:
- The Philippine government can register 8% annual economic growth by year 2022.
- NEDA has already approved 18 public infrastructure projects.
- Duterte administration plans to build a new 600-kilometers train system from Tutuban in downtown Manila through Albay and to Sorsogon province in Bicol region, with estimated construction costs of US$250 million to $300 million and to be completed in 4 to 5 years.
- Infrastructures construction projects will be undertaken by the Duterte administration 24 hours daily and for 7 days a week, Duterte described it as “non-stop and full-speed”.
- Infrastructures budget for 2017 shall be P861 billion pesos.
- President Rody Duterte has already convened 9 cabinet meetings in less than 5 months, usually lasting from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. in order to fast-track socio-economic development projects and reforms.
- Dr. Diokno said that infrastructure projects will help solve Metro Manila’s chronic traffic problem, which he said is costing the Philippine economy P2.4 billion pesos of productivity losses daily. He added: “I think this will get worse until they get better, due to the coming construction activities and infrastructure projects.”
- The Duterte administration is planning to reduce personal income tax rate from 32% to 25%, and to increase the number of people who shall enjoy tax exemptions. Diokno said: “President Duterte is the first president of the country to submit a tax reform policy within only a few months in office.”
- Diokno said that the ideal ratio of infrastructures budget to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is 5%, but the Philippines ever since Edsa 1986 to now or the past 30 years averaged “not over 35”. Diokno said: “Under the Aquino administration of the past 6 byears, infrastructure budget averaged only 2.7% to 2.9% of GDP. Under the Duterte administration, the target is 7% to 8%, and that’s the conservative target only. The cost of borrowing money in the world now is so low, government should increase infrastructure developments and socio-economic services. National economic growth which is not inclusive or not felt by the ordinary citizens, this should change and this Duterte administration wants high economic growth should improve the lives of bthe people.”
- The Philippines is subscribing to and becoming an active member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as part of efforts to speed up infrastructure developments all over the country.
- The creation of a new government center is possible, perhaps in Clark. During President Joseph Estrada’s short-lived term, there was a plan to create a new government center in Quezon City where Trinoma mall is now located and this was already planned by architect Jun Palafox, but the Estrada government fell. Another possible option is the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, which has 50 hectares of government land.
- Diokno said President Duterte is expected to decide on what to do with our existing congested international airport, either go for Clark, or San Miguel Corporation’s proposal of a new airport in Bulacan or SM Group’s proposal in Sangley Point in Cavite.
- Secretary Diokno said: “The Duterte administration shall continue the Private Public Partnership (PPP) but with a twist, there shall be reforms such as the government entertaining unsolicited bids and others.”
- The Duterte administration targets to create at least one million new jobs a year.
- The Duterte administration targets to reduce poverty by 1.25% to 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) every year.