TOKYO — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. touted the Philippines’ strong macroeconomic fundamentals, liberal investment reforms, and infrastructure program on Friday as he urged Japanese businessmen to invest in the country.
“As we go along our development journey, I invite all of you to continue and enhance that partnership. When you ‘think growth, think Philippines’ so that together, we will reap the benefits of robust, sustainable, and inclusive growth for our businesses and for our peoples,” Marcos said in his speech during the Philippine Business Opportunities Forum here.
“Let’s make it happen in the Philippines!” he added.
Marcos said the Philippines has seen a “remarkable” recovery from the economic slump brought by the COVID-19 pandemic as the economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), grew 7.6% in 2022 from 5.7% in 2021.
"This growth — which exceeded expectations and our targets — was broad-based, reflecting high government spending and robust domestic demand driven by household consumption and private investments," he said.
Despite the elevated inflation seen last year at 5.8%, surpassing the government’s estimate of 2-4%, the President said that inflation remained “manageable” as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projects inflation to settle at 4.5% this year and go down further to 2.8% next year.
“Aided by industrialization and job-creation strategy, we expect the Philippine economy to graduate from lower middle-income to upper middle-income status by 2024, if not sooner. This will keep us on track in achieving high-income status by 2040," Marcos said.
"Against this backdrop, we envision poverty incidence in the Philippines to be slashed by half or from 18.1% in 2021 to 9% by 2028," he added.
The chief executive also mentioned the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 —the country's medium-term development plan—crafted in line with his administration’s eight-point socioeconomic agenda on investment promotion; infrastructure development; energy efficiency; increased employability of the workforce; expansion of digital infrastructure; innovation, research, and development; pursuit of a green and blue economy; and establishment of livable and sustainable communities.
"Our demographic advantage —particularly our young, educated, hardworking, English-speaking workforce [that] is among the best in the world—puts us in a strong position on the global stage," Marcos said.
"This complements Japan’s development strategy, given its older demographic, of tapping human resources from outside its borders to meet the labor requirements of its enterprises," the President added.
On the budget deficit, Marcos said it went down to 6.5% in the first 11 months of 2022 from 8.6% in 2021.
"Under our medium-term fiscal program, we target to reduce the budget deficit to 3% by the end of my term in 2028,” Marcos said.
“Prudent debt management will be critical to achieving this goal,” he added.
“We will reduce government debt as a percent of GDP from 60.9% as of end-2022 to 51.2% by 2028," the President said.
The chief executive also said the Philippines has "a lot more to offer to Japanese investors" in terms of ease of doing business in the country.
The Philippine government has removed major barriers to foreign investments through landmark laws, the President said, noting the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act and Public Service Act.
Marcos also said that the Philippines has been undertaking massive infrastructure development initiatives, taking off from the efforts of the previous administration.
The administration is, likewise, making it easier for private investors to engage in infrastructure initiatives, he said, noting that the government has revised the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law to improve the financial viability of PPP projects.
“Japan has been a steadfast partner of the Philippines, being one of the largest sources of trade, of investment, of official development assistance, and of remittances,” Marcos said.
“In return, on top of the world-class hospitality, the Philippines has accorded Japanese investors a reliable and high-quality workforce and a stable macroeconomic environment conducive to growth. Let us nurture this mutually beneficial partnership,” he said. — VBL, GMA Integrated News