Government to ramp up mining sector’s development

Department of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno answered the questions from the media during a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday (July 6, 2022).
KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The Marcos administration is moving to ramp up the mining industry as part of plans to grow the economy amid the pandemic.

In a television interview yesterday, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the economic team has already presented the medium-term fiscal framework to President Marcos during their first Cabinet meeting.

And for targets to succeed under the two-part framework, Diokno said that all sectors would have to perform well, including the controversial mining industry.

“Another major industry, mining, which was not present before, will be also accelerated,” Diokno said.

“Mining was not there before when its contribution to the economy was practically nil because there was a real emphasis on environmental concerns,” he said.

Mining has been contributing less than one percent to gross domestic product (GDP), as the Duterte administration has been generally cold to the sector.

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It was only toward the end of 2021 when Duterte gave a much-needed boost in revenue generation for the industry with the lifting of a four-year old ban on open pit mining.

The lifting of the ban on open pit mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores in the country was considered as among the most awaited moves of the mining sector.

“Toward the end of the administration, former president Rodrigo Duterte decided to open up mining and I think mining is a growth sector because as you know, because of the crisis, the price of metals has gone up significantly,” Diokno said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, for its part, welcomed Diokno’s latest push for the industry.

“It has always been our strong belief that responsible minerals development, when allowed to flourish, could substantially contribute to economic recovery,” COMP chairman Michael Toledo said.

“This is particularly in terms of increasing government revenue, job generation, and poverty alleviation that are most needed in this time of pandemic and beyond,” he said.

Apart from mining, Diokno said agriculture and tourism would also be given attention in this administration.

The agriculture sector has been a laggard in terms of contribution to economic development given natural calamities, diseases and meager annual budget.

The tourism sector, on the other hand, has been severely hit by the pandemic due to restricted mobility and unstable reopening of business establishments in the past two years.

The sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) barely improved to 5.2 percent in 2021 from 5.1 percent during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

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