Philippines leads ASEAN preparedness in infra buildup, says UN body

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) has recognized the Philippines as one of the most prepared Southeast Asian countries to carry out a massive infrastructure buildup program, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

This was disclosed during UNESCAP’s workshop on infrastructure financing strategies recently held in Manila, and attended by Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran.

“The workshop found the Philippines to be among the most ready in ASEAN in boosting infrastructure development,” Beltran said.

According to Beltran, the UNESCAP cited favorable factors which contribute to the country’s healthy fiscal position, enabling it to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy to fund its Build Build Build program.

These factors include the substantial financing opportunities from the country’s development partners, as well as the government’s tax reform program, rising revenue collections, and declining debt service ratio.

Aside from the ample fiscal space, Beltran said the UN body also recognized the country’s “strong“ financial system, which is teeming with excess liquidity, supported by good regulation and a rising savings rate.

Beltran said the UNESCAP also commended the government’s project evaluation and prioritization system and right-of-way law, which encourages the government and private landowners to agree promptly on RoW issues for infrastructure projects.

During the workshop, the UNESCAP also cited the Public-Private Partnership law that sets up rules to implement projects and the strong participation from the private sector for the development thrusts of the government.

“However, the workshop also took note of the dearth of projects from less developed regions and scanty participation by the local government units, despite the assistance available for their PPP projects through the Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO),” Beltran said.

The government plans to embark on a massive infrastructure program, dubbed Build Build Build to sustain economic growth, attract investments, create jobs, and ultimately reduce poverty in the Philippines.

To fund this program, the government intends to spend up to P9 trillion until 2022, and raised budget deficit ceiling to three percent.

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