President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte, like his predecessor President Benigno Aquino III, is inheriting a sturdy economy. Duterte will have the luck of leading the Philippines in the next six years with solid economic fundamentals.
The economy under the Aquino administration persevered amid a global slowdown. The gross domestic product in the last six years expanded despite falling exports and the torpor of the Aquino administration.
The economy is doing relatively well, growing faster than the economies of China and the rest of Asia in the first quarter of 2016. The GDP expanded 6.9 percent in the first three months, the fastest quarterly growth in nearly three years. The overall economy registered growth despite agriculture’s 4.4-percent contraction in the wake of the severe El Niño drought.
The international community will watch how the Philippine economy will fare under the incoming administration of Mr. Duterte. The new chief executive should strive to make the nation investor-friendly, keep the general economic policy intact and introduce reforms that will lead to freer trade.
Mr. Duterte, for one, should auction and speed up critical infrastructure projects that the Aquino administration failed to deliver. The construction of more toll roads, bridges, airports and seaports will instantly create jobs and induce consumption. Upon their completion, these projects will ease the flow of goods and services from the countryside and hopefully achieve an inclusive economic growth that will benefit poor farmers and fishermen.
The new president could also take a second look at mass housing, the construction of which will certainly bolster the economy. The poverty incidence remains high as many Filipinos still cannot afford to own a house.
Mr. Duterte can dovetail his campaign promise to fight crime and lawless elements with sound economic fundamentals and reforms. Creating job opportunities through investments and increased infrastructure spending will trim the poverty incidence, which in turn, will reduce the crime rate.