House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Joey Sarte Salceda on Sunday, January 1 expressed his belief the Philippines will compete with Vietnam and India for the fastest growing major economy in Asia-Pacific this year, 2023.
The Albay 2nd District Representative said he is optimistic about the country’s growth prospects under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s direction.
“The sense of gloom from some projections does not come from Philippine fundamentals but from expectations of global economic slowdown,” Salceda said in a statement.
“I’m much more confident about the Philippine outlook. I think we will see inflation ease next year, and the jobs numbers, which now exceed pre-pandemic levels, inspire some confidence,” he stressed.
The lawmaker said he particularly sees signs that the country’s private sector “starting to accumulate economic muscle.”
“The most recent official manufacturing numbers showed that the fastest growth rate was in manufacture of machinery and equipment except electrical. The sector posted the highest annual growth rate of 76.4 percent in October 2022. That tells you that more businesses are preparing to make more things,” he said.
“Latest manufacturing figures showed that the industry division with highest average capacity utilization for October 2022 was manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products. That’s our top export sector. So, I am optimistic about growth in that sector.”
“If we can keep the momentum, I think we are in the race for fastest growing major Asian economy in 2023,” he reiterated.
But the government must set its sights on being more attractive to investors than Vietnam or India, especially in the areas of services, especially Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and technological manufacturing.
The Philippines, he noted, is “playing defense” in the BPO sector competition.
“On the services sector front, our strategy is expansionary defense. What I mean by that is, we keep our advantages, such as a very flexible tax incentives regime for the BPO sector, strong command of English and one of the highest college enrollment rates in Asia,” he said.
But thanks to the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law, Salceda said, as it helped the Philippines retain its significant edge against Vietnam and India.
“We are at 35.52%, India is at 27.1%, and Vietnam is 28.64%. But again, we are playing defense. We need to keep improving, and we need to expand college enrollment further. That depends on strong primary and secondary education,” he pointed out.
That’s why he said, he hopes Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will come up with a comprehensive strategy to boost college enrollment and minimize drop out rates.