MANILA—Malacañang on Thursday downplayed the slight slowdown of the Philippine economy in the first three months of the year saying that the economy will pick up sharply due to the influx of investors coming in from the countries visited by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the Philippine economy grew by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, slower than the expected 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth projected by the government.
“It’s still leaping though. There are cycles of development, there are cycles of growth, right? But so far, we are very much on the right track towards growth. We are growing,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said during a Palace briefing.
While it was pointed out that the 6.4 percent growth for the gross domestic product (GDP) was slowest since it registered at 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, the Palace official said that it is all a matter of perspective.
“I suppose it all depends on the perspective regarding that. But right now, we are growing and right now we’re improving, and right now things are vastly being improved especially with the influx of investors coming from the region, coming from China, coming from Japan, coming from other areas,” Abella said.
President Duterte’s trips to foreign countries included visits to ASEAN countries as well as China, Japan, New Zealand and the Middle East.
From these foreign trips, China and Japan were the most fruitful, with investment pledges in the billions of dollars and estimated hundreds of thousands of jobs to be generated in the next few years.
According to Malacañang, the visit to China resulted in more than 20 agreements with an estimated total value of USD 4 billion and will generate over 100,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the visit to Japan produced investment commitments estimated at USD 1.85 billion and will generate about 250,000 jobs in the next few years.
The Palace said this is separate from five government-to-government agreements that were executed that included Exchange of Notes Agreements of up to USD 184 million.
Moreover, 15 pipeline loans were entered into by various national government agencies for various projects during the President’s visit to Japan, which include the constructions of North Avenue to FTI Taguig subway and the Manila to Clark high-speed railway.
These forms part of the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program, otherwise known as Dutertenomics.
Dutertenomics, which the Administration says will usher in the country’s “golden age of infrastructure,” is expected to greatly increase construction activities and public spending.
Through Dutertenomics, the government will be spending around PHP8 trillion over the next six years — with PHP860.7 billion allocated to big-ticket projects for 2017 alone.