DESPITE incessant attacks against his person especially his human rights records relative to his campaign against illegal drugs, President Rody ‘Digong’ Duterte continues to enjoy trust and confidence from among influential local and international business groups, economic managers and credit rating agencies.

It appears that these groups especially the credit rating agencies are impressed with his leadership no matter how uncanny it may seem and that he is able to deliver the economic programs that his administration has lined-up for the country.

The Duterte administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, which serves as its socioeconomic blueprint, targets 7 to 8 percent GDP growth in the medium term.

The government hopes to get it done by pursuing the 10-point agenda ultimately aimed at reducing the poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 from 21.6 percent last 2015.

For its long term plan, the incumbent government has adopted the so-called AmBisyon Natin 2040, aimed at tripling the number of middle class Filipinos with a per capita income of $11,000 in 24 years.

That can be done by sustaining at least 6.5-percent annual GDP growth alongside the implementation of various economic policies would make the Philippines a high-income country by 2040.

Because of these plans, credit-rating agencies believe that under Duterte’s leadership, the country’s economic fundamentals would remain solid which in the process could attract foreign direct investments.

As a result, credit-ratings agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor (S&P) and even Fitch have given the country investment-grade credit ratings.

This paper however believes that despite the favorable impression by those international credit watchers, the Duterte administration must see to it that its economic programs must focus on activities that would protect the interests of the poor.

Thus, the government must veer away from introducing new taxes in financing its ambitious infrastructure projects and must instead strive to effectively collect existing taxes while also slowing down rampant smuggling activities in the country’s seaports and airports.

As we all know, any new taxes would mean additional burden to the poor.

But since Digong has shown time and again that his heart is for the ordinary people, there is a great likelihood that he would work to stamp-out all forms of corruption so as to finance his projects without making the people suffer.    

Maybe, these economic managers could see the sincerity and determination of Duterte to uplift the lives of the poor which led them to believe that his economic roadmap could surely be implemented and attained.

That is why the rest of the nation is keeping its fingers crossed.

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Sunday, 23 September 2018
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