The Philippine economy is “bound to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest-growing economy in the fastest-growing region in the world,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Wednesday, June 27. 

 He disputed President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that the country’s economy is “in the doldrums” and pointed out that economic data showed that the Philippine economy was “doing well.”

 “The numbers don’t lie,” Diokno said during a news briefing, in response to inquiries about Duterte’s statement on the country’s economy.

 “You look at the facts. Not impressions. Not perceptions but the hard facts and you’ll be convinced that it’s not the case,” he added.

According to him, the Philippines is becoming a more attractive destination for foreign investors.

Diokno said, “The Philippines now is very attractive to investors. In fact, people say we’re now the number one choice as an investment destination. So let’s not change the conversation. We’re in a very good place. We’re doing very well.”

 He is confident that the investors would not be discouraged despite Duterte’s remarks.

 “I think the foreign investors know the facts. They are intelligent people. They discount statements coming from the political side. In fact that’s what we are trying to do on the economic side,” Diokno said.

Duterte said the economy is “in the doldrums” in a speech in Davao City on June 22. He cited slow-moving state projects in the provinces and rising interest rates as the reason behind the decline.

 The mega-projects in Metro Manila should be implemented on time, he added.

 “In Manila, they’re starting on the mega projects. Well, I supposed that they should be doing it on time. But in provinces, it’s a doldrums thing,” Duterte said.

The statement was issued after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas hiked interest rates for the second time since September to temper rising consumer prices.

 The Philippine economy grew by 6.8 percent in the first quarter, but it is lower than the government’s target of 7 to 8 percent due to higher commodity prices.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. explained that the reason why the President called for the timely implementation of the “Build Build Build” infrastructure program and pushed for federalism is because of the slow progress in the provinces.

 “Our economic growth is not evenly distributed. Provinces are lagging behind in terms of progress and projects,” Roque said in a news briefing.

He added, “That’s why the president wants to fast-track the implementation of ‘Build, Build, Build’ in the provinces and he is calling for Charter change toward federalism because it will really provide the solution to the uneven distribution of growth.” 

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