Thursday, 26 February 2009

Arroyo points out the need to move quickly

PGMA: Gov’t will accelerate investments in infra sector to sustain economic growth

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that the government will accelerate infrastructure investments this year to insulate the country from the global crisis and sustain economic growth.

The President made the statement before top local and international investors during the Philippine Economic Briefing themed, “Challenges and Opportunities in a Global Crisis,” this morning at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

“We have accelerated our investments in 2009. These expenditures are not meant to break the bank. We have brought forward investments to further stimulate our economy, to help our people, and to sustain the growth that has been so important to our economic success,” the President said.

Welcoming the President at the Dusit Thani Hotel were more than 1,000 top local and foreign businessmen, the country’s economic managers who earlier presented our country’s healthy fiscal and economic situation, and hotel general manager Prateek Kumar.

Among those present were Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Gary Teves, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ralph Recto, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Peter Favila, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

The President said the early implementation of tax and other economic reforms have provided the country with enough revenues to fund huge investments in human and physical infrastructures.

This includes the P300-billion economic stimulus package the President earmarked last year that helped cushion the initial impact on the country of the global financial crisis.

She added that sound fiscal management and prudent monetary policies have provided the country with gross international reserves of almost $40 billion.

“But we must move quickly if we are to ensure that our economy stays on path,” the President said.

In his presentation at the Dusit forum, Andaya said the government would frontload 60 percent of the infrastructure programs of major government departments to encourage labor and capital intensive projects in the first quarter of this year.

To spur more economic activities, Teves added that the government needs to spend more on irrigation and road projects, education, quality health care, and other critical infrastructure to help the poor and the vulnerable.

“We remain mindful that this acceleration of investments must be balanced. We cannot abandon our hard-fought gains in fiscal discipline. We are well aware that we must both spend wisely and be prudent if we are to leave our nation in a healthy condition for the next generation. That is the road we were on before the onset of this global crisis. That is the road on which we would like the country to continue when this challenge has passed,” the President said.

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