MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's "political will" gets projects moving faster, helping the economy sustain growth that is among the fastest in Asia, one of his economic managers said Wednesday.
The government reported full-year growth of 6.7 percent in 2017, following a 6.6-percent expansion in the fourth quarter that was buoyed by state spending.
"Political will. He is our first president who has political will, who can get things done quickly," Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia told ANC's Headstart.
With the President's high popularity ratings, people are cooperating with government, helping boost business confidence, Pernia said.
The economic planning secretary was asked why gross domestic product growth remains a regional leader despite international criticism of the President's war on drugs.
The 6.7-percent growth in 2017 was within the government's 6.5 to 7.5 percent target and behind the 6.9-percent expansion in Asia's largest economy, China.
Pernia said 2018 would be a "boom year" for infrastructure spending and construction, with the economy forecast to grow 7 to 8 percent for the full year.
"Members of the Cabinet are mostly senior citizens, very impatient like the President. We want things done fast so we can see meaningful change in our lifetime," Pernia added.
Protectionism in the US, which could affect global trade, is among the risks to the Philippine economy this year, Pernia said.
Inflation could pick up by 1 percentage point due to tax reform, Pernia said, adding the effect would be "transitory."
The first package of Duterte's tax reforms took effect on Jan. 1, raising duties on fuel, cars and sugar-sweetened drinks to offset a reduction in personal income tax rates and help raise funds for a P8-trillion infrastructure program.