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Pernia: Philippines’ infrastructure build won’t depend on China

Vast infrastructure initiative taking shape, minister says; insists PPP will be used, not just Chinese soft loans.


Ernesto Pernia, secretary of socioeconomic planning for the Philippines


The Philippines’ Build Build Build infrastructure drive is one of the most ambitious in the region: 75 priority projects, more than 4,000 others under assessment, and costs approaching $200 billion.

Getting it under way successfully may transform the country’s approach to investment and markets.

Ernesto Pernia, the former Asian Development Bank (ADB) economist who now serves as secretary of socioeconomic planning for the Philippines, says that the average spending on infrastructure has gone from 2.6% of GDP during the previous Aquino administration to 3.8% in 2017, and 4.5% to 4.8% in 2018.

“Then it will ratchet up even further to about 7% by the end of this administration in 2022,” he tells Euromoney on the sidelines of the IMF annual meeting in Bali.

It’s one thing to say this, but the Duterte administration is certainly not the first to do so. Why is it any better equipped to deliver than those who have tried before?

“Well, we have better fiscal space now,” Pernia says.

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