CRC’s Villegas bullish on PHL growth under incoming Duterte administration  

DAVAO CITY—The business community’s so-called prophet of boom is bullish on the unprecedented rise of the economy in the next six years, given the five engines of growth ready for incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Dr. Bernardo Villegas, research director of the Center for Research and Communication (CRC), said the 6 percent-to-7 percent growth in GDP the country is experiencing right now will be sustained, and is expected to register a double-digit rise, citing Duterte’s political will to implement socioeconomic policies.

“The 6 percent-to-7 percent growth we are experiencing for the last four years is going to be sustained whoever is elected as president,” he said.

Villegas disclosed that he has already shared research findings of his development works in the Philippines that may help the Duterte’s economic team—incoming Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez and Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade in their policies.

One of the engines of growth that could continue to spur the economy under the Duterte administration is the remittances from the overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

Villegas added that the country has posted over $2 billion worth of cash remittances and continue to grow year-on-year at 3 percent to 5 percent.

“Filipino workers are a class anywhere in the world,” he said during the Fifth General Membership Meeting of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. on Friday afternoon at the SMX Convention Center.

Villegas, who is popularly known in the business community as the prophet of boom, is currently a member of the boards of directors or advisory boards of leading national and multinational firms, such as Benguet Corp., Insular Life, Alaska Corp., Phinma Property Holding Corp., Bank of the Philippine Islands and IBM, among others.

Villegas cited the growing business-process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which continues to be an attractive industry. He said the BPO sector posted an earning of $22 billion early this year. The 1.1 million employees under the sector also grew 18 percent every year. He projected the earning from the BPO industry to surpass OFW remittances.

He also said the Duterte administration has opportunities to expand Philippines Export Zones to Mindanao. He even sees reconnaissance of the manufacturing industry in Japan because its energy sector is suffering from shortages, given its problems with nuclear energy sources, thus, many industries could move to the Philippines.

Villegas expects the Duterte administration to unleash billions of dollars for infrastructure, adding that he foresees the successful implementation of projects. “It is not a secret we have worst in infrastructure,” Villegas said.

“The present administration [under President Aquino] suffered from paralysis by analysis. The public-private partnerships (PPP) are [mere] Powerpoint presentations,” he added. Villegas said he sees the incoming administration to implement more infrastructures like ports, airports and seaports.

Based from the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Villegas said there are available funds for the Duterte administration to implement transport infrastructure and railway system. He agreed to Duterte’s plan of not considering PPP projects.

Villegas is also hopeful on Duterte’s plan to welcome foreign direct investments given that the incoming President is open to a Swiss challenge, a form of public procurement in some (usually lesser developed) jurisdictions, which requires a public authority (usually an agency of government) that has received an unsolicited bid for a public project (such as a port, road or railway) or services to be provided to government, to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it.

Duterte earlier warned businesses, particularly the telecommunication companies, to shape up or he would welcome foreign companies to compete with them.

“He must not close the idea of opening the country to foreign direct investments in public authorities…provided the process is transparent and cannot be abused,” Villegas said.

Villegas believes Duterte can crush oligopoly, a market form dominated by few. If Duterte can do that, Villegas said his administration will see 8-percent-to-10-percent GDP growth every year.

The two other engines of growth are domestic tourism that must be developed with Filipinos already rediscovering their own country and the growing young population. He said developing rural tourism is increasing the purchasing power of the Filipinos.




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