(YEARENDER)Progress for all: DOF prioritizes financial inclusion, 10-point socioeconomic agenda

The Department of Finance (DOF) has reassured the public that the Duterte administration will continue the macroeconomic policies that have taken the Philippine economy to a higher growth plane over the past decade.

Even before he assumed office, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III acknowledged the contributions of the Arroyo and Aquino administrations in the country's economic growth,, through policies anchored on fiscal conservatism worked down the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), brought predictability to the markets, and produced impressive GDP growth rates.

Prior to the start of his six-year term last June 30, President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his economic team outlined a 10-point socioeconomic agenda that would "transform the national economy in ways that will bring not only social peace but also communities that nurture our people."

Early on, Dominguez emphasized that the DOF "should play a role in making our growth more inclusive; this can be achieved by rethinking our investments incentives, reconfiguring our taxation system to build a robust middle class, and reinventing our trade and tariff policies to that we may take advantage of free trade without sacrificing the development of our industries."

He lamented that "the comparatively high growth did not sufficiently disperse economic opportunity nor substantially reduce poverty. It kept income levels high for the small middle class and pushed the rural poor to even greater misery."

To promote financial inclusion, his initiatives included the "Sulong Pilipinas: Tungo sa Kaunlaran" consultative conference with the business community last June 20-21, followed by the Philippine Development Forum on Nov. 8-9, both held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.

According to Dominguez, high on the new administration's priority list is to "move away from the chronic under-spending we have seen the past few years. We will invest in building the infrastructure necessary to make us a 21st century economy: from modernizing our ports to improving our logistical spine to ensuring reliable and cheap power for all the islands."

DOF spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez pointed out that the country's revenue generation system needs to be reconfigured due to a low tax efficiency rate vis-A�-vis other comparable economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This comes as the Philippines takes over the ASEAN chairmanship and hosts the ASEAN Summit in 2017.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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