Department of Trade & Industry Secretary Ramon “Mon” Lopez on March 31 spoke to media to say that their “conservative estimate” is that the Philippine economy this year 2017 shall attract P500 billion pesos worth of new investments and will accelerate economic growth, he said all these at the Pandesal Forum of 78-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City.
Lopez said the Duterte administration’s goal is to ensure that Philippine economic growth shall be inclusive and sustainable, thus among its reform policies is releasing state funds to support microfinance entities in order to counter the controversial high-interest “5-6” usurious loan-sharks victimizing small traders and micro-entrepreneurs. The initial fund is P1 billion pesos, but he said Budget Secretary Diokno urged him to apply for additional P2 billion pesos. Lopez said President Duterte’s vision is to make P1 billion pesos funds for every region of the Philippines for micro-lending to smallest traders.
Secretary Lopez also said DTI and other government agencies are partnering with the private sector, malls, the business chambers in order to encourage and support small & medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) nationwide. DTI is also helping ensure stable consumer prices.
During the free-wheeling Pandesal Forum with local and international media, Secretary Mon Lopez extolled the country’s pro-Philippines “independent foreign policy” which has resulted in unprecedented warming diplomatic, economic and strategic ties between the Philippines and the world’s second largest economy China and global energy superpower Russia.
Lopez said that President Duterte has visited all the Asean neighbors to boost trade and diplomatic links. Even Japan has increased its economic ties, with Lopez announcing that three Japanese firms already doing business in the Philippines are investing an additional P14.5 billion pesos which shall create 20,000 new jobs.
Lopez said that both China and Russia will strengthen economic cooperation, increase trade and tourism exchanges. Lopez said that apart from huge infrastructures and other cooperation, China is increasing imports of Philippine agricultural products by US$1.7 billion dollars and encouraging its affluent tourists to come to the country from less than half a million per year to over a million tourists annually.
Among the top business leaders who attended Secretary Mon Lopez’s Pandesal Forum at Kamuning Bakery Café to express the general optimism of businessmen included Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., Anvil Business Club chairman emeritus and Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI) founder George T. Siy, and Anvil Business Club president Reynold Siy. They all lauded the DTI and the government for progressive macro-economic policies and reforms which shall bolster Philippine economic growth momentum.