The Duterte administration is increasing infrastructure spending over the next five years to lift about 10 million Filipinos above the poverty line.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar told reporters the government would spend P8.4 trillion in infrastructure projects from 2017 to 2022 to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and key cities and sustain the strong economic growth.
He said the government budgeted P847.2 billion for infrastructure projects this year, representing 5.3 percent of the gross domestic product, higher than the average 2.9 percent of GDP during the last administration.
The Public Work’s infrastructure program has a budget of P428 billion this year, of which P107.8 billion will be spent for traffic decongestion program, P18.8 billion for convergence and rural road development, P95.9 billion for integrated and seamless transport system and P104.4 billion for livable, sustainable and resilient communities.
“In 2018, we are expecting to spend around 7 percent of GDP [gross domestic product]. This [would be] at par with our Asian neighbors,” Villar said.
The Philippines, according to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report from 2015 to 2016, ranked 95 in the overall quality of infrastructure.
The Philippines was behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“We want to create an infrastructure to bring progress to the provinces, to every corner of this country and ultimately we want to bring down the poverty level of the Philippines from 21.6 percent to 14 percent by 2022,” Villar said.
“The significant of this will be lifting about 10 million Filipinos above the poverty line. This program is so essential because in order to do this we need to pump prime the economy. We need to put the money in areas where it could be productive and in areas that will give us good economic rate of return,” Villar said.
The government targets an economic growth of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year and 7 percent to 8 percent from 2018 to 2022.
Villar said the “golden age of infrastructure” was not a dream or a powerpoint presentation. “It’s happening now, we funded it,” he said.
“I want to re-assure that we are on track and this golden age of infrastructure is all systems go. We are working hard to improve the lives and you will feel it very soon. We are almost there. I believe in the next two to three years you will start feeling the infrastructure program,” he said.
“I believe this is the story of the Philippines, which is invested heavily in infrastructure and investing in its people. We are a country which is poised to take off. We are in the Cinderela moment,” Villar said.
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