Pres. Duterte's economic team receptive of ADB’s offer of more support
By Lilian C. Mellejor

DAVAO CITY, July 11 (PNA) -- The economic team of President Rodrigo Duterte is receptive to the offer of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) of greater financial assistance to the Philippines to push the 10-point socio-economic agenda of the new administration.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said, “We are certainly open to discussions on the higher level of assistance being offered by the ADB to put the 10-point socioeconomic agenda on the fast track.”

Dominguez believed that ADB’s support will go a long way in helping Pres. Duterte deliver on his electoral mandate to bring progress to all Filipinos. “On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we thank the ADB, through its President Takehiko Nakao, for its commitment of full support to the new Philippine Government and its 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda for sustained high and inclusive growth,” Dominguez said in a statement.

Dominguez issued the statement after last Friday’s meeting with Mr. Nakao and Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia wherein the bank president affirmed strong partnership for promoting sustainable economic growth, reducing poverty and improving the welfare of the Filipinos. The ADB offered to increase assistance that will be based on the government’s socio-economic and poverty reduction priorities particularly in rural areas.

Nakao was bullish on the country’s that provides a foundation for further sustainable growth to fully realize enormous potential. He even commended the current administration’s aim of spreading the benefits of strong growth.

“The Philippines can harness its vast potential by tapping its young and educated population in pursuit of higher productivity and job creation, especially in such areas as small-and medium-enterprises, tourism and agri-business,” he said.

ADB has provided its first loan to the Philippines in 1969 to support private enterprise development. This was followed by a loan to support agriculture and rural development in Mindanao.

According to its report, ADB already poured in USD15.9 billion in sovereign loans, USD1 billion in non-sovereign operations (loans, equity investment, and guarantees to the private sector), and USD93 million in technical assistance.

The bank has also provided USD900 million assistance in areas affected by supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013.

“The ADB has certainly not failed us in the past, judging from its almost a half-century of development partnership with our country from the time it first extended aid for agricultural and rural development in Mindanao in 1969,” Dominguez said.

Over and above accelerating infrastructure development, agriculture, improving human capital investment and social protection, Nakao also highlighted ADB’s commitment to supporting peace and development in Mindanao, where it is also working with local governments prepare the Mindanao Development Program.

Dominguez said the strengthened partnership between the Bank and the Philippine government on the Duterte presidency would, as conveyed by Nakao, focus on key areas that the 10-point agenda itself aims to harness to enable our people to truly benefit from a strong economy that the ADB projects to grow beyond six percent in 2017.

“These ADB priority areas, ranging from infrastructure, agricultural and regional development to employment, education and social protection, are the very same concerns that the new government aims to address by raising beyond the norm our public investments in human and physical capital,” Dominguez added.

The administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which were presented last month, are: 1) Continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary, and trade policies; 2) Institute progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection, indexing taxes to inflation; 3) Increase competitiveness and the ease of doing business; 4) Accelerate annual infrastructure spending to account for 5% of GDP, with Public-Private Partnerships playing a key role; 5) Promote rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism; 6) Ensure security of land tenure to encourage investments, and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies; 7) Invest in human capital development, including health and education systems, and match skills and training; 8) Promote science, technology, and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity; 9) Improve social protection programs, including the government's Conditional Cash Transfer program; and, 10) Strengthen implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.(PNA)


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