Gov’t firm in implementing infra projects

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia ABS-CBN News

The Philippine government remains committed to implementing the country’s aggressive infrastructure program despite suggestions that it needs to prioritize projects to reduce the rising trade deficit.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program will be ‘high-priority’ items, while those least essential may be put in the back burner.

“We haven’t made a decision to slow down on the Build, Build, Build. Even with the (proposed) suspension of the excise tax in 2019, we consider the Build, Build, Build program as the priority program,” he told reporters in a press briefing recently.

Reynaldo Cancio, director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) National Policy and Planning Staff (NPPS), noted it is more important for the country to invest in infrastructure considering that rising inflation is mainly caused by issues in the supply side of the economy.

“So, the goal is to build infrastructure to improve productivity, improve mobility between the regions so food products between the food production areas and the developed areas where these are needed,” he said.

The government has identified 75 priority infrastructure programs under the BBB program, most of which are roads, bridges and airports that are seen to help boost the economy, most especially in the far-flung communities of Mindanao.

Maybank Kim Eng senior economist Chua Hak Bin earlier urged the Philippine government to prioritize projects under its massive infrastructure program amid the country’s rising deficit on trade and current account.

Government data indicates the country’s trade deficit rose to USD3.51 billion in August from the USD2.74 billion same month of last year, driven by strong growth of imports. (PNA)