Business confident of 8% GDP growth under Duterte

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine economy growing by eight percent should not be a problem under the incoming administration, local business groups said.

Business groups led by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) agreed that achieving an eight percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the country is not a question of if but a question of when.

“I would think it’s a possibility, especially with the incoming administration’s planned push for agribusiness. In the past, instead of growing, our agribusiness has taken a step back. Given how strong our economy is now and if we put more on agriculture, then eight percent GDP growth is definitely a possibility,” PCCI president George Barcelon told The STAR.

“Given the fact that we know he (incoming president Rodrigo Duterte) is an implementor, definitely six percent is very achievable this year. In fact, we might be surprised it might even go as high as eight percent during his term,” MAP president Perry Pe said in a separate interview.

Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., meanwhile, said the incoming administration’s strong focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), ease of doing business, human capital, infrastructure development, and increased agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism are seen as key drivers to the country’s expected robust economic growth in the years ahead.

“It (eight percent growth under Duterte administration) is possible. And we wonder why we are not hitting it,” Ortiz Luis said.

The ambitious eight percent GDP growth, however, may come in the second half of Duterte’s six year term, according to the business groups.

“Agriculture relies in infrastructure such as irrigation, transportation, and farm to market roads. These infrastructures would take time to build so probably we will see such economic growth in about two or three years more,” Barcelon said.

Barcelon’s PCCI has already submitted several actionable recommendations to the next administration.

The group said it has pushed for the adoption of a comprehensive tax reform package, including the simplification of the tax system, as this will reduce the cost of compliance, promote voluntary compliance and increase collection.

The PCCI also indicated automation and streamlining of business permitting and licensing systems as well as reducing bottlenecks in land titling in its actionable recommendations as these can ease and improve the cost of doing business and eliminate windows of corruption in the country.

The Philippine economy accelerated 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, the fastest among 11 selected economies in Asia.

It outpaced expansions in China (6.7 percent), Vietnam (5.5 percent), Indonesia (4.9), and Malaysia 4.2 percent).

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