Yesterday, DBM Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo delivered a speech on behalf of Secretary Benjamin Diokno at the American Chamber of Commerce Philippines’ Annual Thanksgiving event at Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Cebu City.
In the speech entitled “Dutertenomics and the Visayas”, Secretary Diokno discussed the Philippines’ positive growth trajectory and outlook, citing twenty continuous years of positive growth. He also pointed out that “sustained positive GDP growth and a consistent share in the national GDP” shows that the Visayas is expanding with the national economy.
In 2016 and 2017, Regions 6, 7 and 8 all posted positive GDP growth, despite significant deceleration in industry for regions 7 and 8. Meanwhile, the share of all three regions in the national GDP has remained consistent from 2015 to 2017, with Region 6 contributing around 11% to the National GDP, Region 7 with around 17% to 18%, and Region 8 with around 6%.
Secretary Diokno, however, qualified these statements by disclosing poverty statistics, which he says “leave little to be desired”.
Poverty incidence in the Visayas is at 28.2%, higher than the national average of 21.6%, and 25.3% of the Philippines’ total poor population reside in the Visayas.
According to the Secretary, the administration plans “to close the poverty gap and ensure sustained growth in the Visayas” by “putting in place an expansionary fiscal policy that will facilitate heavy investments in infrastructure and human capital development”.
“Public spending is increasingly becoming one of the strongest drivers of our growth,” the budget chief said. “For Fiscal Year 2018, we have increased the national budget by as much as 12.4% from P3.35 trillion in 2017. At P3.767 trillion, it is our largest budget to date.”
Finally, he enumerated a number of infrastructure projects the administration is implementing to spur growth in the region.
On airports, he mentioned the opening of Terminal 2 of Mactan International Airport, as well as the expansion of Bacolod International Airport and Ilo-Ilo International Airport. On roads, he cited Metro Cebu Expressway and Bacolod Highway. He also discussed the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit, Cebu International Container Port, Leyte Tide Embankment Project, and Boracay Rehabilitation.
According to him, all these projects would be finished before the end of the current administration’s term.