Filipinos have witnessed how the latter half of 2016 ended on a positive note, both on socio-political and economic aspects.
The Philippines registered its most significant gains in 2016 under President Rodrigo Duterte, as the fastest growing economy in Asia—a 7.1 percent third quarter growth, its most robust in three years, which even surpassed China’s 6.7 percent and Vietnam’s 6.4 percent.
Looking forward this time, what significant developments could drive Filipino optimism for 2017, as noted in a recent survey report? Noted economist Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, a member of the Duterte economic team, lists a dozen economic developments and events this year, on which the man on the street can brightly look forward to, as growth drivers.
Salceda’s list is topped by the Philippine chairmanship and successful hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ summit which he said “drive the Filipinos’ optimistic outlook for 2017.” The Philippines accepted last September 2016 the Asean chairmanship, which has adopted the theme “Partnering for change, engaging the world,” a reference to President Duterte’s campaign slogan, “Change is coming.”
The Philippines’ Asean chairmanship coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the 10-member regional bloc. “During the Philippines’ chairmanship, we will highlight Asean as a model of regionalism and a global player, with the interest of the people at its core,” Duterte stressed. “We will pursue initiatives and enhance cooperation with global partners to ensure that Asean citizens live in peace, stability, security and growth, all the while retaining Asean’s centrality, unity and solidarity, that we will maintain for all times,” he added.
Second in Salceda’s list is the completion and launch of 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan earlier this year. The PDP will translate AmBisyon Natin 2040 and the administration’s 0+10-point Socio-economic Agenda into strategies, policies, programs, and activities that emphasize “Malasakit at Pagbabago tungo sa Patuloy na Pagunlad” (Concern and change towards continuous growth).
AmBisyon 2040 represents the collective long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country in the next 25 years. It describes the kind of life they want to live, and how their country will be by 2040. As such, it is an anchor for development planning across at least four administrations.
Seen as third most important economic event in 2017 is the approval and proper implementation of the proposed Traffic and Congestion Crisis plan, that gives Duterte emergency powers to solve the debilitating transport problem and save the country billions of pesos in daily loses. Fourth is the enactment of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN that will reduce the personal income taxes of ordinary working Filipino families by P156 billion. Supporting this is the fifth in list; the initial implementation of the Tax Administration Act or TARA, which paves way for the government’s efficient tax collection strategy. Both measures were sponsored by Salceda in the lower house.
Likewise among the top of these 2017 events are the Final Peace Agreement with the National Democratic Front Comprehensive Agreement on SocioEconomic Reforms or CASER, and the creation of Bangsa Moro Authority by legislation. Salceda said these will ease up the government peace and order campaign, resulting to improved economic conditions.
The year 2017 also jumpstarts the “Golden Era of Transportation in the Philippines, the eighth significant event, that includes the rapid development of international airports In Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Daraga in Albay, and Panglao in Bohol. This also includes the kick off of the Mindanao Railways and the Southline component of the North-South Railways Program; the implementation of the bridges between Matnog, Sorogon and Allen, Samar, and between Leyte and Surigao.
The list puts in ninth the implementation of the 42 Industry Roadmaps, Manufacturing Resurgence Program, Small and Medium Enterprise in Global Value Chain development and the new Investment Priority Plan of the Duterte administration. In 10th spot are the Business trophy investments from Japan including $25 billion committed by Marubeni and the big-ticket infrastructures funded by loans from China, seen to push further the country’s economic growth.
Capping these developments that drive Filipino optimism for their truly brighter future, is the submission to Congress of the proposed Federal Government set up for the Philippines and the convening of the Constitutional Assembly, which is not only historic but also opens doors to a broad prospect of economic growth.
Salceda stressed that providing solid support to these developments, the 12th in his list, is the strong leadership and united front by the Executive, Legislative, Local government units and civil society organizations against poverty and strategic alliance for global competitiveness.
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