President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. started his first three months in office with one of the most impressive economic performances in any administration. Our gross domestic product expanded 7.6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2022, which is the President’s first three months in Malacañang.
We achieved the economic feat despite a series of global and domestic challenges, such as rising inflation caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and the lockdowns in China. The President and his economic team decided to fully reopen the economy, including the education sector, to unlock the country’s economic potential. The move resulted in many businesses resuming their operations and millions of workers returning to work.
I believe the robust expansion of the economy will continue in the fourth quarter, based on the hectic business activities happening around the country. Vehicular traffic now matches the pre-pandemic level, and electricity consumption is at its peak. Many conglomerates and publicly listed companies posted record profits and revenues in the third quarter.
Many hotels and restaurants have also reopened, attracting swarm of customers who are willing to go out and spend once again. International tourism is on a rebound, with visitor arrivals reaching 1.9 million in the first 10 months of 2022, per the Department of Tourism’s tally.
The World Travel & Tourism Council confirmed the numbers, saying the appetite for international travel reached its highest point since the start of the pandemic. Filipino travelers have been identified as among those raring to visit destinations overseas, according to the council.
The outlook for 2023 and beyond also looks promising. Local stocks and the peso have recently recovered, as business optimism sets in. More importantly, the government has shown a strong resolve to sustain the economic growth by preparing a six-year economic blueprint.
The National Economic and Development Authority led by Secretary Arsenio Balisacan is about to submit the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023 to 2028 to President Marcos early this month to identify “actionable strategies” that will further improve the economy.
President Marcos, in his first State of the Nation Address in July, asked Neda to coordinate with other government agencies, local government units and the private sector in formulating the PDP. Neda hopes to complete the plan within the year.
A development plan contains the government’s strategy for the proper planning and execution of programs and projects to achieve the objectives. It will guide the entire bureaucracy in planning and developing their programs.
The PDP will serve as the development blueprint for the next six years under the Marcos administration. More than a plan, it is a commitment from the government that it will stick to its development path and not suddenly change course midway so that it can consistently achieve its goals. All government departments and agencies are expected to follow the guidelines spelled out in the PDP.
This in turn will inspire the private sector to follow and support the government’s development path that will lead to business expansion, job generation and poverty reduction. Overall, it will provide cues on what the public should expect from the government until 2028.
The PDP is in line with the eight-point agenda of the Marcos administration. Among the priorities of President Marcos, based on his past statements, are protecting the purchasing power of Filipino families, mitigating the scarring from the pandemic, ensuring sound macroeconomic fundamentals, creating more jobs by promoting investments and improving infrastructure, generating higher quality jobs though innovation and digital technologies, creating sustainable jobs by promoting green and blue economy, upholding public order and safety and ensuring a level playing field by strengthening market competition.
The government’s ultimate goal is to reduce the national poverty rate to 9 percent by 2028. Neda believes the objective is achievable through faster economic growth, generation of higher quality jobs and enhancing the social protection system.
While Neda has yet to release the final draft of the PDP, a part of it may mention the President’s housing program. The President has unveiled a plan to build six million affordable housing units in six years to substantially reduce, if not eliminate, the nation’s housing backlog. This will not only resolve the housing shortage, but will in fact generate millions of jobs and livelihood opportunities and create sustainable communities nationwide.
The PDP would also underscore the need for economic transformation to achieve a prosperous, inclusive and resilient society. It involves strategies that are forward-looking and still relevant to current issues, and promotes digitalization in government processes and domestic market.
The PDP will serve as a roadmap towards unlocking sustained and inclusive growth. It means strengthening the economy to make it more inclusive and resilient to unexpected shocks, such as weather-related disturbances and global crises.
To ensure that government agencies comply with the plan, the President tasked Neda to oversee its implementation and periodically report to him and the Cabinet on its progress.
I believe the development plan will lift business confidence in the next six years and help the Philippines achieve its target of becoming an upper middle-income nation in the next couple of years and a high-income economy by 2045.