Manila: Departing from the government's austerity policy at the onset of his administration, President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday said that the government has earmarked P72 billion (Dhs 6.08 billion) to buttress the economy.
Aquino, during the annual presidential forum of the Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) in suburban Makati City Wednesday, said the stimulus spending is part of his administration's strategy to perk up the economy by channeling more funds into infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, and other programmes that can help their respective communities toward development.
"As you know, the global economy has undergone a bit of a slowdown recently; and there has been some question of how this will impact our economy... This slowdown is already making some impact on growth in the region, including the Philippines. Rest assured, the government is working overtime to make certain that we do what must be done to maintain our economy's momentum," Aquino said during the event.
Earlier in his administration, Aquino had been criticised by economists like Benjamin Diokno former budget secretary Benjamin Dioknofor adopting austerity measures instead of continuing his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's strategy of using stimulus spending to prevent the economy from entering a downturn.
Aquino said his governmet has earmarked an additional P6.5 billion (Dhs 549,763,226) for infrastructure development. He said such a measure will not only result in improving access and movement of commerce, but on the immediate, will generate employment for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos across the country.
"This is only one part of it. This stimulus package will give an additional P10 billion (Dhs 845,789,579) to resettle and relocate informal settlers and families in danger zones. We're also allotting P5.5 billion (Dhs 465,184,268) on various infrastructure projects under the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways); and P4.5 billion (Dhs 118,410,541) and P1.868 billion (Dhs (Dhs 157,993,493) will go to the improvement of the MRT and LRT respectively.
The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transportation (LRT) are the two main elevated commuter rail transport systems of Metro Manila.
Recently, the government had approved the extension of two separate lines of the LRT into Cavite and Bulacan provinces.
Likewise, a big portion of the stimulus spending will be channeled to relocating hundreds of thousands of informal settler families from hazardous areas of Metro Manila.
"The criteria we used to choose these projects were simple. The stimulus will be spent on projects that will have high macroeconomic impact, and will help the poor," he said.
He said the allocations for these stimulus spending will be sourced internally by the government.
"The great thing is this: we're not borrowing any additional money to fund these projects. The funds will come from the money we have saved and from our existing borrowing programme. More than that, the effects of this stimulus package will be felt not just at the end of this year, but also in the first half of next year," he said.
Aquino said that in addition to this stimulus package, the Philippines is diversifying products and markets by strengthening trade with China and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc to make up for slowdown in United States and Europe.