DAVAO CITY - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will not be timid in harnessing government resources to spread development to the countryside, but this will not mean unnecessarily bloating the budget deficit, his economic managers said Monday.
The incoming government may increase spending by as much as 50 percent, which would bring the budget gap to three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from the current two percent, they told reporters.
Incoming finance secretary Carlos Dominguez said high GDP growth rates and other strong macroeconomic data were not important to the public. "They want the poverty rate to go down... They want their personal lives to be better," he said.
"We are going to prioritize projects outside of Metro Manila. We are going to execute projects in the countryside," he said.
Duterte's economic team aims to reduce the country's poverty rate to 16 percent from 25 percent, pursuant to United Nations goals, incoming socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia.
"This is not ambitious. We are just achieving what the previous guys did not," Dominguez said.
Duterte, who will assume office on June 30, is pushing for a shift to a federal-parliamentary form of government to devolve power and resources that have long been held in the capital.
This city, a bustling metropolis in the southern region torn by decades of conflict, has become a showcase for his tough leadership style.