MANILA – The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is redoubling its efforts to expand the economy at a much faster rate in its remaining quarter to recover the opportunities lost for high and inclusive growth in the two-year pandemic, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Friday.
Armed with the passage and implementation of its hard-won reforms, the Duterte administration “will continue working till the last hour of our mandate to contribute all that we can to our strong economic resurgence,” Dominguez in his recorded video message during the first day of the virtual Rotary International District 3870 Conference.
“The reward for all the work we do now is a better future for the next generation of Filipinos,” he said.
Dominguez said conditions for the Philippines’ post-pandemic rapid growth have never been better, owing largely to how President Duterte exercised strong political will to push game-changing reforms that that had gotten stuck in the legislative mill for decades, and how the entire nation worked together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic-induced global health and economic crises.
“The election season will not be an issue. We have a long history of orderly and peaceful transfers of power. We will transition to the next administration (with) a comprehensive fiscal consolidation plan to bring the country back to its high growth trajectory,” he added.
With the pandemic now subsiding and the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination program proceeding at a quick pace, Dominguez said the country is well on its way to a strong recovery from the pandemic that broke out in March 2020.
“Our risk management strategy culminated in a full-year growth of 5.6 percent in 2021, exceeding target and market expectations. This year, we expect our economy to grow by 7 to 9 percent,” he said.
In 2021, revenue collection was already 5 percent higher than in 2020, while total merchandise trade and remittances were also above the pre-pandemic levels, which all signal a return to robust economic activity, Dominguez said.
The DOF chief said he expects to fully bring back revenue collection to pre-pandemic levels this year.
Moreover, the Duterte administration marked its final full year with foreign direct investments (FDIs) reaching a record-high of US$10.5 billion as it continues to gain ground in reducing unemployment, he said.
The only glitch to this bullish outlook, Dominguez said, is the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has magnified the dislocations created by the country’s two-year battle with the pandemic.
He said the Philippines, like all other nations, will most likely experience elevated inflation levels because of the impact of the crisis on oil and commodity prices.
“The Duterte administration is closely observing the developments and it is doing its utmost to mitigate the impact of oil and food price increases on our people. Our priority is to support the vulnerable sectors of our society from the ill effects of inflationary pressures brought about by the conflict,” Dominguez said.
The support will be in the form of cash grants for the bottom 50 percent of the population, fuel subsidies for the public transportation sector, and fuel discounts for small farmers and fisherfolk, he said.
Dominguez renewed his call for all countries to do everything within their power to use all available diplomatic channels to help resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner at the soonest possible time to shorten its global impact.
He added that while the pandemic disrupted “what could have been the Philippines’ spectacular path to high and inclusive growth,” the government was confident that this setback was only temporary because of the reforms that the Duterte administration had put in place to ensure fiscal stability. (PR)