Duterte: Philippine economy to grow by 7%

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) — President Rodrigo Duterte, in his keynote speech during the 51st Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting said that the Philippine economy will grow faster during his administration.

"Over the next few years we aspire and expect to sustain a growth rate of 7 [percent] or better," Duterte told the attendees of the regional bank's conference.

The country's economic growth breached the 6 percent mark on July of 2015 and it hasn't gone lower than that since. It was at an average of 6.7 percent for 2017.

Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia, during a speech delivered on April 6 this year, said that the government is targeting an annual GDP growth rate of 7 to 8 percent from 2018 to 2022, the end of Duterte's term.

"This will enable us to achieve and sustain our goal of bringing down the poverty rate to only 14 percent by 2022, or at least hopefully," Duterte said during his ADB speech.

"Build, build and build", and we link, link and link, that is the battle cry of the moment," he added, citing the administration's aggressive infrastructure plan that aims to promote inclusive growth outside the Metro Manila region.

To achieve the target growth rate, Duterte cited transportation, infrastructure, protection of civil order, the fight against corruption and of course the war against illegal drugs as priorities. The war on drugs, he said, would be "within the limits of what the law allows… but as it always has been, relentless."

As for foreign policy, Duterte said that the shift in focus to countries other than the United States is meant to align with these developmental priorities.

"We will exert all efforts to build a truly inclusive economy that benefits our people for the next few years; [it] will be an interesting time for the region," Duterte said. "It is a time when Asia will lead the world and provide examples to other developing countries. The ADB will play a key role in this process."

He thanked the bank for being the third largest source of development assistance to the Philippines as of December 2017. He said that the Philippines currently has 14 active loans and 17 grants with the Bank, amounting to $2.51-billion and $12.30 million respectively. All-in-all, the ADB's assistance to the Philippines amount to 213 public sector loans amounting to $16.85 billion and 28 grants amounting to $82.6 million.

"Because of ADB's efforts and assistance through grants and financing, the Asian-Pacific Region to which the Philippines belongs, is fast emerging as home to the most vibrant economies in the world," Duterte said. "Indeed, the Asia-Pacific Region is poised to take its place as a hub around which other countries spin."