MANILA, Philippines - Amid accusations of underspending in 2011 that led to a measly 3.2-percent GDP growth, President Aquino assured Filipino-Chinese businessmen yesterday of improved spending this year that will focus on agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.
At the same time, he called on members of the Chinese-Filipino Business Club Inc. that held its 7th Biennial National Convention at the Manila Hotel, to join in efforts to pump prime the economy and help the government create more jobs.
“Agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure will be our focus this 2012,” Aquino assured.
“Our national budget has been aligned to provide massive support to these three sectors, and I invite all of you to capitalize on these opportunities, while at the same time taking a larger role in creating jobs and helping stimulate the economy,” he said.
The President said these three sectors are the “ones that can provide the most employment for those in the margins of society. They are also sectors that offer plenty of opportunities for businesses like yours to enter.”
Tourist arrivals, he said, have increased by 11 percent, or from 3.5 million to 3.9 million from 2010 to 2011. “As we pursue the ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ campaign launched by the Department of Tourism, we expect that number to rise even more.”
And this excludes the government’s plan to refurbish completely NAIA 1, where they intend to reach a total of 10 million tourists by the time he steps down as President In June 2016.
In agriculture, the government will focus on irrigation, community seed-banking, and constructing more farm-to-market roads. “This year, we have even increased our budget for agriculture by more than 50 percent,” Aquino revealed.
“Our goal is to be rice self-sufficient by 2013, and we believe that despite some setbacks in the past year, we can still achieve this. I am inviting all of you to share the success of the agriculture sector with us through your investments,” he added.
“We are doing what we can to expand these sectors as soon as we can. Getting involved now will give your companies plenty of opportunities to profit, and the psychic returns go on top of the monetary gains,” he said. - By Delon Porcalla