PHILIPPINE Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez in a forum in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday gave a clear outline of the Philippine infrastructure needs as he welcomed the initiatives of the US government in tapping the private sector to invest in infrastructure and energy.
The Building the Indo-Pacific: ASEAN Stakeholder Forum was held at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2018.
“The Philippines’ infrastructure investment plan, entitled ‘Build, Build, Build’ is one of the boldest and most ambitious infrastructure programs in history. The administration’s goal is to invest over US$170 billion in six years into the country’s infrastructure development, and spend 7.4 percent of GDP by 2022, on infrastructure alone,” Romualdez said in his opening comments as he spoke on the Philippines’ priority objectives in infrastructure.
He said Philippines’ investment in infrastructure for over five decades averaged only at 2.6 percent of GDP compared to its neighboring economies have invested twice that ratio.
“Underinvestment in infrastructure produced a large gap that resulted in congestion and inefficiency. We are seeking to correct that gap by investing in 75 key strategic infrastructure projects over the medium term. And I am proud to inform you that ‘Build, Build, Build’ is gathering momentum,” he added.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Walter Douglas, in his keynote address, emphasized that key to the economic component of the US Indo-Pacific strategy is the importance of private sector-led development.
He said that the Asian Development Bank has identified a US$1.7T infrastructure investment deficit in the region, and the US hopes to work towards making countries in the Indo-Pacific more attractive to approximately US$50-70T of liquidity in the investment finance markets.
“And our goal is to use the private sector, because that’s really where the United States’ strength is — in creating conditions for the private sector to come in and let them do the job of development. It is our belief that state-led development does not work. There are serious flaws with it,” Douglas said.