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SONA 2016: Duterte hopes to hand over stronger economy

MANILA, Philippines – Six years from now, President Rodrigo Duterte hopes to hand over a stronger economy that is backed by strong dollar reserves, stable inflation, and robust fiscal position.

"By the end of my term I hope and pray to hand over an economy that is much stronger," Duterte said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25.

The country's tough-talking chief executive promised to prioritize infrastructure spending, lower corporate and personal income taxes, ease the process of doing business, and heavily invest on human resources.

Serious on infra spending

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had said that his department plans to hike infrastructure spending to up to 7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) this year, to address the sorry state of infrastructure.

This is higher than the 5% target of former president Benigno Aquino III's administration.

"We'll accelerate infra spending, including national roads, bridges and implementing Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network," Duterte said in his first SONA.

Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network is an initiative of the Department of Public Works and Highways to reduce logistics costs in areas of Mindanao by improving linkage roads to key ports and other production areas.

Duterte, however, did not touch on the subject of the public-private partnership (PPP) program during his first SONA.

Duterte's budget chief, Diokno, had earlier said that underspending should end as it has tempered the country's growth potentials in the past 2 to 3 years.

Other than higher infra spending, Duterte's other initiative to boost the economy is investing heavily on human resources to modernize agriculture and develop rural areas.

"There must be sufficient income for all Filipinos to meet their need. There should be reforms to ensure competitiveness and ease of doing business will be mandatory," Duterte said. – Rappler.com