MANILA – Efficient implementation of measures to ensure the continued recovery of the domestic economy from the impact of the pandemic is a Herculean task but the government has buckled up, ready to face all the challenge.
In a report for the Marcos administration’s first 100 days in office, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it has completed most of the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in terms of inter-agency coordination in crafting the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.
Among others, it has issued the PDP planning guidelines; has convened the Plan Steering Committee, which include the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of National Defense (DND); and has conducted virtual training workshops in mainstreaming the human-rights based approach to development planning.
Economic managers, through the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), have revisited the government’s medium-term fiscal framework for 2023-2028 in line with the bid to further increase the share of investments in infrastructure to 5 to 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Authorities said increasing infrastructure spending has long-term economic effects and will provide more opportunities for the expansion of the economy.
The government’s infrastructure investment accounts for around 3 percent of GDP in the past administrations until it was hiked by the Duterte administration, which the current government intends to continue.
Results of fiscal reforms also pushed by the previous administration have allowed the government to help finance its needs even during the pandemic.
The present government thus aims to sustain the gains, citing the need for the amendment of the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) law, among others.
The BOT IRR Committee approved on Sept. 15 this year the amendments to the 2022 implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Amended BOT Law.
The DOF earlier said amendment of the IRR of the BOT Law is expected to improve the country’s investment climate and attract more foreign investors in line with the government’s goal to implement more infrastructure projects.
In terms infrastructure projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), the NEDA said 17 new projects have been added to the pipeline since June 2022, bringing to 74 projects, with total project cost of around PHP2.258 trillion, the updated list as of Aug. 31, 2022 indicates.
The NEDA said the new projects include road, public transportation, and water supply being implemented by local and national agencies.
Among the projects targeted to be fully operational until 2028 include the Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite extension operation and maintenance (2024); Cavite-Laguna Expressway (2023); MRT Line 7 (2025); New Manila International Airport (2028); North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway (NLEX-SLEX) Connector Road Project (2023); and the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (2023).
The construction of some of these projects was affected by the lockdown measures implemented when the pandemic hit in 2022.
However, authorities said construction works have resumed as soon as possible and with strict compliance to the heath protocols.
Meanwhile, to hasten the daily printing of the national identification (ID) from 80,000 to 100,000, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), an attached agency of NEDA, has “proposed for the shift to monochrome PhilIDs (Philippine Identification).”
“The shift to monochrome PhilIDs will lessen issues with photo quality and will also increase the printing daily capacity from 80,000 to 100,000,” NEDA said.
It said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is currently doing preparations for the contract amendment in relation to the shift to monochrome PhilIDs.
The NEDA said the PSA will also launch a printable version of ePhilIDs to complement the ongoing printing of physical PhilIDs.
In a press release on July 26, 2022, PSA said it aimed to issue 50 million PhilID cards by year-end, 30 million of which are physical IDs while the balance of 20 million are digital IDs.
The national ID program aims to equip Filipinos with a single ID that will be recognized as a valid ID.
Among others, this will be used to strengthen the monitoring for the distribution of the government’s social protection programs.
In terms of food security, the NEDA said it is continuously monitoring and pushing for policy reforms on the sugar industry, the livestock, poultry, and dairy (LPD) industry, and for the supply of rice, a staple food in the country.
The NEDA is advocating the liberalization of foreign investments in rice and corn to help ensure adequate supply for these grains.
With challenges both from external and internal environment, the government wants to make sure that it is ready for any eventualities to ensure that Filipinos, mostly especially the vulnerable sector, are protected.
The government has set a 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth assumption for the domestic economy this year and a 6.5 to 8 percent assumption for 2023-2028.
While the elevated inflation rate has affected the continued growth of the economy, since it affects people’s purchasing power, authorities said monetary and non-monetary measures are in place to address the continued rise in the rate of price increases.
Among these measures include fuel subsidy to drivers and operators of public transportation, farmers, and fisherfolk.
The BSP has also increased its key policy rates by a total of 225 basis points so far this year, bringing to 4.25 percent the overnight reverse repurchase (RRP) rate.
Monetary authorities said the impact of the rate hikes is expected to be cushioned by the continued recovery of the domestic economy, which grew by 7.4 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, domestic inflation rate accelerated to 6.9 percent last September, bringing the year-to-date level to 5.1 percent, higher than the government’s 2-4 percent target band.
It changed its course after decelerating from a five-month rise to 6.3 percent in the previous month due mainly to upticks in food prices.
Monetary officials said inflation is expected to go back to within-target levels by the second half of 2023, with the peak seen in the last quarter of this year. (PNA)