TO SUSTAIN ECONOMIC GROWTH: Economic team to work with Congress, private sector, and civil society

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s economic team, led by the Department of Finance (DOF), will work closely with Congress, the private sector, and civil society in a unified approach to economic recovery and long-term growth.

“We are making a bid for lasting change, and we can only do this if we work in unity. I am confident that we have the right people at the helm and a clear, focused plan that will build a truly inclusive and sustainable economy that the Filipino people deserve,” said Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) held a day after the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Marcos, Jr.

Anchored on the Marcos administration’s near- and medium-term 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda, the post-SONA PEB gathered more than 500 members of the business sector, development partners, civil society, and the media to a face-to-face event with Cabinet Secretaries.

The high-level event fleshed out in three panel sessions the points mentioned in the President’s SONA.

Secretary Diokno, Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel Bonoan, and Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo were the keynote speakers for the panels on General Economy, Infrastructure and Industry, and Social Infrastructure and Labor, respectively.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, the highest government official in attendance at the event, also fielded questions as part of the panel on Social Infrastructure and Labor.

Other members of the Cabinet who participated in the briefing include Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Tourism Secretary Ma. Esperanza Christina Frasco, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy, Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, and Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla also attended the event, while the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Energy sent representatives.

In his keynote speech, Secretary Diokno said that the Marcos administration will expand the private sector’s role in driving economic transformation.

He added that the government will widen the space for civil society to turn the collective aspirations of the Filipino people into reality.

Secretary Diokno said that the economy’s growth prospects are bright, given the projected growth domestic product (GDP) expansion rate of 6.5 to 7.5 percent in 2022, and 6.5 to 8.0 percent from 2023 to 2028.

He said that analysts consider these near-term growth projections to be the highest among the ASEAN+3 countries, which include Japan, South Korea, and China.

Secretary Diokno also assured the public that the economy is fully prepared to address challenges, including elevated world prices of oil and other key commodities, lingering effects of the pandemic, and unpredictable global political economy.

“The Marcos administration will implement a comprehensive 8-point socioeconomic agenda to decisively respond to these risks and steer the economy back to its high-growth trajectory,” Secretary Diokno explained.

In the near term, the plan seeks to address the immediate challenges confronting the Filipino people––rising prices, scarring from the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensuring sound macroeconomic fundamentals.

Over the medium term, the goal is to create more jobs, quality jobs, and green jobs through higher investments in infrastructure, human capital development, and digitalization.

Secretary Diokno said that the interventions under the agenda will enable the government to cut the poverty incidence to 9 percent by 2028 and elevate the country to upper-middle income status.

“We will do all of these while exercising fiscal discipline. The economic team is committed to implementing a Medium-Term Fiscal Framework [MTFF]. This serves as our blueprint to reduce fiscal deficit, promote fiscal sustainability, and enable robust economic growth,” said Secretary Diokno.

He added that the MTFF proposes measures that will improve tax administration, enhance the fairness and efficiency of the tax system, and promote environmental sustainability to address climate change.

The MTFF will, likewise, bring down the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio from 63.5 percent as of the first quarter of 2022 to less than 60 percent by 2025, and cut the deficit-to-GDP ratio from the current 6.4 percent to 3.0 percent by 2028, while increasing infrastructure investments at 5 to 6 percent of GDP annually.

President Marcos, Jr., in his SONA, described the MTFF as a forward-looking document that extends beyond the traditional three-year horizon to reach six years. Once adopted, the MTFF will serve as an anchor for the annual spending and financing plan of the national government and Congress when preparing the annual budget and undertaking related appropriation activities.