Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

Here we go again

Jan 22, 2023, 3:49 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Writer/Columnist

The ever optimist, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno is telling us, and the world, through the World Economic Forum where he and other Cabinet members joined the elite junket in Davos, Switzerland that the Philippine economy might sustain a 6.5 percent growth rate this year, one of the fastest pace of expansion in the region.

If I recall, week after week as Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, he kept painting rosy projections for the economy even as the world was going through a protracted seesaw—ups and downs—from various external and internal risks just like us.

And I keep saying that we should not be speaking too soon as we don’t hold all the ingredients in our hands for a tasty gourmet meal. But he kept on doing it. Now as DoF secretary he is doing it again and if things don’t turn good, he would have another reason to spin that it was out of our control.

Let us just be realistic. Keep our goals to ourselves and do not make rosy promises as if you were a seer or god who can just make things turn the way you want it.

Understandably, he wanted to make a good impression so that those billionaires in Davos would look at the country to stash their hoards. But it is not as simple as that. They look for tax havens and a stable political climate and consistent policies.

At the Davao luncheon which the economic managers hosted for the president and the seven business tycoons they hauled to Switzerland, Diokno estimated that gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 likely exceeded the government’s growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent.

While growth may just be at the low end of last year’s range in 2023, Diokno noted that 6.5 percent would still be one of the highest, if not the highest growth projection in the Asia-Pacific region.

A bustling manufacturing sector, record-low unemployment rate, alongside a stable and resilient banking system, could alleviate buffers against external headwinds, all indicating a resilient economy, the finance chief said.

Liberalizing more economic sectors, improving ease of doing business and allowing modern transformative industries to take root and grow are further seen to sustain the economy.

But because of the current challenges, Diokno said the Philippines is taking the first steps toward launching the Maharlika Investment Fund, the country’s first ever sovereign wealth fund that will support the goals set by the administration in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

“The fund, which will be established in keeping with the highest standards of accountability and sound fiscal management, aims to diversify the country’s financial portfolio,” the DOF chief said, adding, he looked forward to discussing the fund during the WEF meetings.
“May the next few days bring forth more intensive collaboration and cooperation towards genuine economic transformation,” the DOF secretary said.


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