MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said that he has been “losing sleep” over inflation, but is working to pull the Philippines out of its P13.6-trillion debt by improving the country’s growth numbers, calling the strategy the “guiding principle in our economic plan.”
Marcos Jr. gave the statement after he was asked why he frequently describes the Philippine economy in a favorable light overseas, while the country remains debt-ridden and inflation remains high.
“That’s what I lose sleep over: How to bring down inflation,” he told journalists.
“Hindi naman ‘yan magpasok ako ng ilang toneladang sibuyas, bukas bababa na. It takes a little while pero hindi naman ganun katagal,” he said.
While Filipinos remain burdened by rising prices of basic commodities, Marcos Jr. said inflation is only one part of the economy.
The Philippines has an outstanding P13.6-trillion debt, while its debt to GDP ratio skyrocketed to 62 percent in 2022 as government revenues fell due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administration plans to reduce this debt “via growth,” the President said.
“We will pull ourselves out of debt via growth. That is the guiding principle in our economic plan,” he said.
Having one of the highest growth ratings in Southeast Asia is crucial as investors are keeping an eye on these numbers, Marcos Jr. said.
“Lahat ng bansa nangutang noong pandemiya. Pagdating ng [giyera sa] Ukraine, palaki nang palaki ang utang,” he said.
“Ang tutulong talaga sa atin na pagandahin ang debt-to-GDP ratio is growth kaya yun ang tinitingnana ng lahat,” he said.
“‘Yung mabilis magpabuhay ulit ng economic activity, makakalamang,” he added.
The government is also keen on inviting foreign investors to the Philippines to create more jobs.
“We will provide new jobs. We are very proud that we are at 4.2 pct unemployment rate,” he said.
“You cannot have a recession if your unemployment rate is that low. Despite that, we still need to make the jobs higher quality, they have to make them better,” he added, noting that some 2 million new jobs have been created since 2020.
The current administration is seeking to create “green jobs” as well as upskill or reskill the workforce as “there is no silver bullet” to solving the country’s economic woes, the President said.
“We are restructuring the entire Philippine economy to adjust to the new world economy,” he said.
“Kailangan natin ipakita ano ang ating ginagawa para mapaganda ang potential investment nila na dadalhin sa Pilipinas,” he said.