Diokno to US investors: PH is primed for a bright economic future

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno (twitter photo)

Finance Secretary and Chairman of the Economic Development Cluster Benjamin Diokno showcased the Philippines’ solid macroeconomic fundamentals and ‘bright economic future’ before American and international business communities at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) in New York City, United States of America (USA) on September 22, 2022.

“As we pursue the economic transformation of the Philippines in the next six years, the Marcos administration is determined to explore new frontiers with investors from the US and the rest of the world. This is why we believe that this is the best time to do business in the Philippines,” said Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno in his keynote speech for the panel discussion on the Philippines’ economic performance and outlook.

The PEB was part of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s six-day working visit to the US in a bid to drum up foreign investments in the Philippines.

With a total trade of USD 108.7 billion from 2016 to 2021, the US ranks as the Philippines’ third largest trading partner and fourth top source of foreign direct investments (FDIs) at USD 1.35 billion total FDIs over the same period.

It is also the Philippines’ biggest source of overseas Filipino remittances, with over 4 million Filipinos living and working in the US.

Secretary Diokno briefed potential foreign investors on the Philippines’ strong economic performance and brightening outlook and expounded on the government’s efforts to push the Philippines towards broad-based and sustainable growth over the next six years.

This goal is underpinned by the enactment of key structural reforms, the full reopening of the economy, and a first-of-its-kind Medium-Term Fiscal Framework, which contains various measures that will promote fair and efficient tax administration in the country through digitalization as well as mainstream environmental sustainability initiatives to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Digitalization will likewise play a key role in enhancing the efficiency of revenue collection in the country and modernizing its tax system, according to Secretary Diokno.

He presented significant developments in the country’s fiscal sector, including the recent enactment of economic liberalization measures that will further widen the space for joint ventures and foreign participation in strategic industries, making the Philippines a premier investment destination in the region.

“We have set in place structural reforms to establish a business-friendly environment for both domestic and foreign investors, and we anticipate significant benefits from the implementation of these structural reforms,” said Secretary Diokno.

Secretary Diokno also expects the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement to unlock more meaningful employment opportunities for the Filipino people and reduce poverty incidence in the long run.

In the meantime, he said that the Marcos administration remains vigilant and ready to respond to global economic headwinds and pressing issues brought about by the pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict.

Both near-term and medium-term priorities are comprehensively outlined in the government’s 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda which will guide the country towards a faster, greener and more inclusive growth.

During the panel discussion, Secretary Diokno reassured that there will be enough fiscal space to sustain investments in infrastructure, thanks to the tax reforms implemented by the previous administration.

The PPP mechanism is also seen to bolster the country’s economic resurgence by providing additional capital to power the government’s ambitious infrastructure program.

On monetary policy, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla emphasized the BSP’s commitment to promoting price stability, financial stability, and a safe and efficient payment system.

In the second panel discussion on infrastructure and industry, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual highlighted the government’s drive to create enabling conditions for the private sector as key partners in promoting the country’s industrialization and economic transformation.

“Science, technology, and innovation will drive our efforts to build an inclusive and sustainable industrial base supported by efficient and reliable infrastructure facilities,” the Trade and Industry Chief said.

For its part, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is working on a high-standard integrated transport network that will provide inter-regional linkages all over Metro Manila to ease traffic congestion, reduce travel time for workers, and improve the overall ease of doing business in the Philippines.

The high-level event was attended by 140 bank and financial institution analysts, investors, business groups and chambers, as well as credit rating agencies from around the world.

The PEB was co-organized by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Investor Relations Group (BSP-IRG), in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Consulate and Philippine Trade and Investment Center in New York, and partner banks: Bank of America Securities, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, SMBC Nikko, Standard Chartered Bank, and UBS.