Biz heads hope infra program, tax reforms bid will be realized
Local business leaders have pinned their hopes on the realization of the government’s ambitious infrastructure program and proposed tax reforms to help sustain the uptrend in the country’s economy.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Melanie Ng said the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative will create more jobs and opportunities for the economy to grow.
“There should be more focus on the use of technology and the use of digital tools to promote growth, which will definitely create an impact in the region,” she said in a text message to Cebu Daily News.
Last week, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) announced that the Philippine economy grew at a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the third quarter of 2017.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Neda director general, in a statement said the Philippines’ growth surpassed market expectations, given the 6.6 percent consensus median estimate.
It was faster than the upwardly revised 6.7 percent growth in the preceding quarter, but slightly slower than the 7.1 percent growth posted in the same period last year.
“With a year-to-date growth average of 6.7 percent, we are optimistic that we are on track in meeting the full year target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth for 2017,” said Pernia.
The government official said they attribute the country’s growth performance to sustained strong growth in exports and improvements in public spending, which then boosted the manufacturing subsector and the services sector.
For Ng, the manufacturing sector got a boost from investments that have steadily been pouring into the Philippines due to a growing investor confidence amid aggressive promotions led by the government.
“With the recent successful hosting of the Asean 50, this will definitely add more to the attractiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination,” she said.
Glenn Soco, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said the country’s latest growth performance is a testament that economic fundamentals are in the right place.
“Our economy will be sustained and will further be boosted by the Build, Build, Build and tax reform programs of the government,” he said.
Soco added that President Duterte’s announcement to support the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was a step to make this growth felt at the grassroots level.
Earlier this month, President Duterte vowed to introduce changes in the national budget to funnel more funds into small businesses that help prop up the Philippine economy.
Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Business and Investment Summit, Duterte said focus should be given to the “small guys,” especially now that the government had received a boost in revenue collection.
Duterte said he would pour capital into small businesses because he learned from his meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam last week that “the basic unit of the economy has always been moved by the MSMEs.”
Around 80 to 85 percent of the world is run by MSMEs, he added.
In the Philippines, 99.6 percent of all registered businesses are MSMEs that employ 70 percent of the country’s workforce.
Federico Escalona, executive director of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) in Cebu, said that the “remarkable” third quarter growth figures is sustainable because there is already a drop in corruption.
Quoting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., who gave a speech during a Philexport gathering last week, Escalona added that inflation is tame at 3 percent.
“For the export sector, we are quite positive the growth is sustainable due to renewed optimism in the foreign markets as there is a good outlook in the current administration,” he said.
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