EDITORIAL - The infra problem

Joy Cantos - The Freeman

The Philippine's Gross Domestic Product grew by an unexpected 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2016, prompting government officials and the business sector to anticipate for another banner year for the country's economy.

Fueled by a massive public spending and the continuing influx of investments, the economy's strong performance in the first three months has been the best across Asia. It enabled the country to beat perennial leader China and the region's rising star Vietnam.

With the recently concluded general elections, public spending in the previous months was expected to be in record high that – government officials hoped – will trigger a high economic performance in the second quarter.

However, whether the vibrant economy can be sustained in the coming years remains to be seen. For one, poor infrastructure has been the foremost reason why growth has been limited only to the highly-urbanized areas.

Because the country lacks a sophisticated transport system, the countryside remains left behind in the national development. And this problem is clearly evident in the agricultural sector's dismal contribution to the overall economic growth.

While businessmen have been for decades complaining about the high cost of transporting their products because of the limited infrastructure, government response remains slow. We have yet to see a massive infrastructure revolution that would put the entire country on the world map as a major investor destination.

In Cebu, for example, any international call center investor could have taken advantage of a low labor cost and the young talents in Bogo City or in Toledo City. But in the absence of a modern communication infrastructure, putting up such kind of business in the two cities would be next to impossible.

Yes, the country has been catching up lately with its neighbors in the race to entice more foreign investments. But with the present state of our infrastructure, growth will remain sidelined to the urban areas.





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