By Albert-Anthony Abando
MANILA – The country is now on the brink of an economic transformation, Communication Secretary Martin Andanar has told members of the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) and other investors.In his welcome address during the 5th Dutertenomics Forum held at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City last Thursday, Andanar presented the six-year comprehensive development plan to boost infrastructure spending, not just in absolute terms but as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP).
“This ambitious agenda seeks to build infrastructure projects that will integrate major cities and even the islands of our archipelago in our drive to promote economic development that is not concentrated in the nation’s capital or its major urban centers, which will bring opportunities to towns and cities far and wide,” he said.
The communication chief also indicated that for the country to break out of its cocoon, it needs to engineer a shift from a consumption-driven economy to one that is investment-driven characterized by massive investments in physical infrastructure and human resources.
“The Philippines continues to grow at a pace that leaves most of Asia. We want to keep it that way,” he said.
Andanar also cited the Philippines’ growing economy since 1999 and its resilience despite major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the SARS global epidemic, the oil and food price shocks, as well as political and security challenges in recent years.
Foreign exchange earnings from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry have contributed at least 4 percent to annual growth, with more than USD50 billion in cash, equivalent to one-fifth of the GDP, being pumped in every year.
With trade relations between the United Kingdom and the Philippines gaining momentum, Andanar underscored significant footholds gained by both countries, such as the 447-million-British pound acquisition of Whyte and McKay by Andrew Tan in 2014; the 550-million-pound takeover of Quorn Foods by Monde-Nissin Corp. in 2015; and the Philippine Airlines’ USD600 million order with Rolls Royce to outfit six new Airbus units with Trent XWV engines in February last year.
The net foreign direct equity of US$5 billion by the UK was considered as the Philippines’ largest European investment, with 14 UK companies listed as being in the negotiations to enter the Philippine market, he said.
BCCP chairman, Chris Nelson, meanwhile said that more than 800 BCCP member companies have expressed interest in expanding into the rapidly developing Philippine economy, including the infrastructure and power sectors, particularly in the area of renewable energy. (PNA)
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