Category : Press Release
Date : November 09, 2018
Agency : Investor Relations Office
Title : Economic and infra officials engage MSMEs in Cebu as part of Government Sulong Program
Article : CEBU CITY –

Cebu is the first of four cities to be visited by senior economic and infrastructure officials of the Government as part of the Department of Finance’s annual Sulong Program.

The program, meant to keep micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) abreast of economic developments and policies, will be held next in La Union (November 14) then in Clark (November 26) in Pampanga, and finally in Davao City by this month’s end (November 28).

Through the Sulong workshops, and active question and answer sessions, MSME participants make recommendations and ask questions on key government initiatives and projects.

During the first portion of the whole-day program in Cebu held today, a Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) was conducted. Presentations were provided by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Secretary Carlos Abad Santos, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary Emil Sadain, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo.

NEDA Assistant Secretary Abad Santos expressed optimism “that the Philippines will continuously post robust growth, given the country’s stable macroeconomic fundamentals characterized by prudent fiscal policy despite rising infrastructure spending.”

The Philippine economy grew by 6.1 percent in the third quarter and averaged 6.3 percent in the first three quarters of the year, remaining among the fastest growing economies in Asia.

DBM Assistant Secretary Toledo reported that the government will shift to a cash-based budgeting system starting 2019, under which payments for projects and programs lined up for a given period should be made within the same fiscal year.

Toledo shared that amid budgetary reforms, the Philippines is recognized internationally as having a transparent and participative budgeting process.

Expounding on the government’s bold “Build, Build, Build” program, DPWH Undersecretary Sadain presented big-ticket infrastructure projects, highlighting inter-island bridge projects enhancing connectivity within the archipelago. Examples are bridges to connect Cebu and Bohol, Bohol and Leyte, and Sorsogon and Samar, among others.

Discussing the latest inflation outlook and the country’s buffers against external shocks, BSP Deputy Governor Guinigundo said: “The Philippines continues to be on a sustainable growth path, and we have numerous buffers against mainly external shocks... Elevated inflation [in 2018] is due mainly to supply-side factors. As such, it is not expected to be persistent.”

Guinigundo discussed the downward trend of inflation, which is expected to slow down from 5.2 percent this year to 4.3 percent next year, and 3.2 percent in 2020. The Deputy Governor added that should the rice tarrification bill be implemented, it is expected to reduce inflation by at least 0.7 ppt and return it to within target sooner.

Explaining this year’s depreciation of the peso, Guinigundo explained its causes such as rising dollar demand, increased importation of capital goods for investment purposes, prepayment of foreign debts amid ample liquidity, and more Filipino investments abroad — which are all positive signs of a growing economy.

MSMEs also showed keen interest in the BSP’s Credit Surety Fund Program which since 2008 has been increasing the credit-worthiness of MSMEs and cooperatives around the Philippines.

Part 2 of the program was a workshop, where the audience proposed actionable recommendations on how to improve the MSME environment.

During Part 3 of the program, topics relevant to MSMEs — such as ease of doing business initiatives, updates on tax reform, the TRABAHO bill, and government efforts toward financial inclusion — were extensively discussed.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II, who served as one of the event moderators, said Sulong is a major intiative of the Duterte administration to engage businesses and other stakeholders in a consultative process, wherein the government secures their valuable opinions and feedbacks on various areas of governance.

The Cebu event was attended by 260 participants, many of whom represent MSMEs, a vital sector of the economy.