‘Public infra urged to boost economy’

By Marie Katherine Villalon

In order to boost the Philippine economy, the President should accelerate public infrastructure, according to an economist and former public official.

“Ano ang tatakbong bagong airports, highways, urban traffic system, power plants, and water system? Sana du’n sia naka-focus,” Benjamn Diokno, former secretary of Budget and Management, currently a professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics and a columnist for Business World.

Diokno was in Iloilo City last Thursday for the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation gathering in Hotel del Rio.

“We need to invest 500 billion pesos a year for these in order to boost the economy. Kasi, pag nag-invest ka ng ganung pera, may ginagawang construction, thus maraming related industries na ma-develop. This will create more jobs,” he said.

“We need jobs. We need to make up for the past neglect in order for the Philippines to be competitive,” he stressed.

Although Diokno believes that on the level of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, that “he is incorruptible”, he is not sure about those working for the President. "Kasi, if we talk to foreigners, wala pa rin silang gaanong confidence, lalo na sa local level. Masyadong bureaucratic. Maraming dapat bigyan ng ‘lagay’,” he explained.

This reaction came despite the Philippines garnering a higher investment grade. Last March 27, international debt watcher Fitch raised the Philippines’ credit rating to investment grade due to the present administration’s anti-corruption program. “I’m happy na umangat ang investment grade natin but it does not necessarily mean that investors will come in,” he said.

He cited the case of Indonesia and Vietnam who have low investment grades but are enjoying many investments. “The investments are five times more in Indonesia and three times more in Vietnam if compared to the Philippines,” Diokno said.

But Diokno hopes that more investments will pour on, considering that the country has been religious in paying its debts. “Magaling tayong magbayad ng utang. Kahit hirap na hirap na tayo,” he said.

Meanwhile, Diokno said the PCPC coal-fired power plant in Brgy. Nipa, Concepcion will start producing power by mid-2016.

Diokno said that with the six to seven growth in the country, we need 600 megawatts of power every year.
For Iloilo, which has an international airport and with more malls to be constructed, there is a greater demand for power, Diokno said.

“We are committed to produce 130 megawatts by 2016,” he concluded.

The PCPC is a joint venture of the Palm Thermal Consolidated Holdings Corp. (formerly A. Brown Company, Inc.) and Jin Navitas Resource, Inc.*

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