By Daxim L. Lucas, March 25 2019; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Image Credit to Straits Times

The economic managers of President Duterte want more Chinese capital to participate in the Philippine economy, especially in key infrastructure projects that the current administration has made the cornerstone of its growth policies.

“Our partnership with China has never been stronger, and it can only be strengthened if the Chinese companies—both state-owned and private—come to the Philippines and invest,” Bases Conversion Development Authority president and CEO Vivencio Dizon told potential investors.

In particular, the BCDA chief pointed out that the central business district currently rising in Clark, Pampanga, would be an attractive destination for Chinese money.

The call for more investments from China was made by key Cabinet members last week during the Philippine Economic Briefing in Beijing attended by an estimated 500 businessmen. The economic team led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was joined by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, among others.

“Like China, the Philippines is well positioned for growth,” Dominguez said, pointing to the country’s “strong fiscal position” that has paved the way for the government to invest in an ambitious infrastructure program that works in concert with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. “The Philippines, with a fast-growing economy and business-friendly tax reforms, is perfect for investment.”

“We look forward to a seamless network for the flow of goods, the exchange of best practices and boundless cooperation in the coming years,” Dominguez said.

For his part, Villar talked about the importance of “Build Build Build” as more than just a goal: “This is the golden age of infrastructure; our goal is not just to build—it is to sustainably build. We are united in our goals and resilient in our resolve to pursue ‘Build Build Build’.”

Other Philippine officials who joined the roadshow were Department of Budget and Management OIC Secretary Janet Abuel, National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Jonathan Uy and Assistant Secretary Carlos Abad Santos, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana was represented by Commercial Counselor Glenn Peñaranda.

The officials discussed the Philippines’ economic performance and outlook, presented the long list of infrastructure development projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, inviting investors to do business in the country and take advantage of the economy’s growth.

In recent years, the Philippines has been among the fastest-growing economies in the region and the world, registering above 6 percent growth in gross domestic product for the past 15 consecutive quarters as of the fourth quarter of 2018.

Robust economic growth comes with other positive indicators, including a stable fiscal position, ample foreign exchange reserves, a normalizing inflation outlook and a growing young and skilled population. This is matched by rising investments, increased government spending  in education and health services and a stable financial and banking system.