PH 2nd poorest in infrastructure in ASEAN-5

Lean Santos
The answer to sustainable and inclusive economic growth is infrastructure investments, according to economist Benjamin Diokno

STILL BEHIND. Economics professor Benjamin Diokno (left) says the country is still behind its Southeast Asian counterparts in terms of quality infrastructure. Photo by Lean Santos/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – An economist stressed that the Philippines needs to double its efforts in pushing infrastructure projects and developments to sustain high economic growth and make it inclusive.

University of the Philippines economics professor Benjamin Diokno said at the CSR Expo on Thursday, July 4, that the Philippines remains to be one of the poorest in terms of overall infrastructure quality within the ASEAN-5.

The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are the initial countries that formed an economic organization in Southeast Asia. (Editor’s Note: We earlier added Vietnam among the ASEAN-5 members. It is not, we are sorry. Singapore is the 5th among the initial members of the economic block but it is no longer considered a developing country, unlike the other 4, including Vietnam.)

“An issue that keeps on hounding us is infrastructure. Among ASEAN-5, we are the second poorest country in terms of infrastructure despite our economic growth,” he said.

“What should we do? We should invest on infrastructure. This is the best time to make up for lost ground,” he said.

He cited a report by the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report in 2013 where the Philippines ranked 4th out of the 5 countries. Philippines scored 98, just above Vietnam’s 119, which ranked more poorly.

The Philippines ranked the worst in quality of sea port and air transport infrastructures with scores of 120 and 112, respectively.

Malaysia led the group with a score of 29 in overall infrastructure quality, followed by Thailand and Indonesia with scores of 49 and 92, respectively.

“The government has to step up to produce the needed infrastructures. The costs of financing is at its historic low,” Diokno added.

He said the government should spend around P500 billion in infrastructure alone every year or about 5% of the country’s gross domestic product if it is to make growth inclusive.

The government is currently allocating around 2% of GDP for infrastructures or about P250 billion in 2012.

He also cited the inefficiency of government agencies in spending the budget efficiently and effectively. Delays in the rolling out of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects contribute to this drag, Diokno said.

“On public infrastructure, the present administration is failing miserably. Not only is it not allocating enough money for infrastructure, what little has been budgeted is not spent fully… The PPP projects remain stalled year after year,” he said. – Rappler.com

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