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Future Philippines finance secretary wants the country to grow

Future Philippines finance secretary wants the country to grow

June 30, 2022: -The Philippines’ incoming finance minister wants to get his county back on a growth path and tackle pressing economic issues like its huge debt pile.

“As finance secretary, I’ll have a different role,” said Benjamin Diokno, the central bank governor. “I’ll be heading the economic team. We want to get back to our growth trajectory before the crisis,” he told CNBC on Wednesday.

“That’s our plan to keep the growth momentum going because I think it’ll solve a lot of our problems right now, including the ballooning deficit-to-GDP ratio and the debt-to-GDP ratio,” said Diokno, the governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The Government’s Philippine national debt hit 12.76 trillion Philippine pesos at the end of April, data released by the Treasury showed.

In February, the Department of Finance announced a financial consolidation plan for the coming administration, focusing on the need to reduce the country’s pandemic-induced debt.

In 2019, before the pandemic began, the Philippines was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but its services and the remittances-led economy were severely hurt by Covid-19.

The government had to resort to emergency borrowing to cover the massive cost of its Covid response and the corresponding drop in revenue followed by mobility restrictions and economic slowdown.

“The debt-to-GDP ratio right now is  63%. That’s not scary; it’s fairly manageable,” Diokno noted. “As long as we increase at around 6-7% for the next six years, that will easily go down to less than 60%.”

The governor said the recent administration has no intention of implementing tax hikes, nearly not within the initial year. He is OK with the tax reform packages left by the last government President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The tax reform program we pushed in the Duterte administration has two remaining sections. These initial two measures are supposed to be revenue-neutral,” he said.

“But they will simplify the tax system. So we will keep pushing them. And I expect this to be approved this year, and then we will implement it coming year.” 

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Future Philippines finance secretary wants the country to grow