Duterte to court investors for 'build, build, build' program

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2017 01:49 PM | Updated as of May 10 2017 08:32 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte File Photo

PHNOM PENH - President Rodrigo Duterte will fly here Wednesday to court top business leaders for his massive infrastructure program, as the administration rares to "play catch up" with other major economies in the region, a trade diplomat said.

The World Economic Forum, hosted by Cambodia for the first time, will serve as the "first international launch" of his administration's "Dutertenomics," said Philippine foreign undersecretary Manuel Teehankee, who handles international economic relations.

The ambitious development plan will require some P8 trillion in infrastructure spending, mostly to be sourced from the national budget but will also need a huge foreign component.

Developing Philippine infrastructure will "complement" the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' "connectivity" masterplan for the next eight years, Teehankee said.

"While the ASEAN as a group must expand its infrastructure connectivity, the Philippines is indeed wanting to play catch up on improving the infrastructure within the Philippines," he told reporters.

The Duterte administration plans to spend P3.6 trillion in the next three years under its "build, build, build" program. It will cover more than 60 big-ticket projects, including a subway system.

On Thursday, Duterte will sit down with top chief executive officers to make a pitch for his development program.

The president's economic managers will provide details on "Dutertenomics" in a separate press conference.

Duterte's delegation will include Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

The president will grace the opening plenary session of the forum, which seeks to take advantage of the region's huge market and workforce.

He will be joined by the prime ministers of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, this year's host of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Half of Southeast Asia's estimated 630 million population is under 30 years old, most of them with internet access.

This tech-savvy group provides an opportunity for better digital connectivity and economic growth for the region, experts said.