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Balisacan: Economic continuity is reassuring

Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - May 16, 2016 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Former socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan says the eight-point economic agenda of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is "reassuring", as he also urges the new administration to work on "hard" reforms.

Balisacan was referring to reforms on the tax system and the removal of unnecessary incentives to investors.

"This (economic) continuity is reassuring. But we also want the government or the new administration to work further deepen the reforms especially the hard ones," Balisacan told the Cebu press yesterday at the sidelines of the public consultation on the implementing rules and regulations of the Philippine Competition Act. Balisacan is now the chairman of the newly formed Philippine Competition Act.

Balisacan further urged the new administration to continue addressing bottlenecks in infrastructure development and the agriculture industry.

"[If that is addressed] you begin to see faster translation of economic growth into poverty reduction," the official pointed out.

Last week, the transition team of presumptive President Duterte unveiled its 8-point economic agenda that generally signals continuity of the Aquino administration's macroeconomic policies.

Duterte's economic plans will center on among others taxes, infrastructure, social services and rural development.

Ensuring the attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign direct investments by easing restrictions and accelerating the public-private partnerships will be also focused.

Balisacan was confident the Philippine economy will continue to grow if problems hampering growth are well addressed.

In their earlier issued forecasts, Moody's Analytics and ANZ Research said the Philippine economy is slated to become Southeast Asia's best performer to defy the slowing global growth.

They said they remain optimistic on the country's economic prospects, citing domestic demand and election-related spending as key drivers to growth in the first quarter.

The government is set to report the first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data on May 19.

The government is keeping a 6.8-7.8 percent growth forecast for the country this year, down from the earlier estimate of 7-8 percent.

In its outlook, the International Monetary Fund kept its full-year growth estimates for the Philippines at 6 percent this year and 6.2 percent for 2017. (FREEMAN)

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