Diokno vows no delay in massive infra projects

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 Nov) – Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno has vowed that the implementation of massive hard infrastructure projects and human capital development will not be delayed even if the proposed tax reform measure will not be passed in Congress.

In a press conference on Wednesday at the Philippine Development Forum at the SMX Convention Center Davao, Diokno said that delaying the implementation of infrastructure program will cause more problems, considering the huge infrastructure gap in the country.

“We will continue to invest in infrastructure and human capital development because you create more problems if you delay,” he said.

Diokno added that they are planning to borrow money – 80 percent from domestic and 20 percent foreign sources – to finance the massive infrastructure investments of the government, considering the lower interest rates offered by financial institutions.

He, however, said that he is hopeful that Congress will pass the proposed tax reform bill.

“How can you not invest with the huge backlog? We expect Congress to pass the tax reform package. We are very positive that Congress will be cooperative as well as the and SC [Supreme Court],” he said.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said that it is high time to invest heavily on infrastructure projects as the country is at its “Goldilocks moment in our economic history” where “interest rates are low, inflation is low, and a lot of liquidity domestically.”

“If we do not use this moment and take advantage of it, to close our infrastructure gap now, when will we do it? When you look at the tax reform program, there are items there that are not exactly popular. However, if we don’t pass this legislation, how will we pay for our future infrastructure projects?” he said.

Dominguez added that the government must take on the public infrastructure investments so that the next generation will not have to suffer the consequence of the poor infrastructure program today.

“We need to seize the moment and make the hard decision at this point in time. If we will not do it, we will miss the boat,” he said.

Dominguez added that they purposely proposed for tax reform early in the Duterte administration to allow Congress more time to correct the provisions of the proposed tax reform bill.

“We are putting it early in the administration. They have two or more years to catch up. We are not putting at the end right next to election. Unfortunately, the unpopular parts of it will damage their political chances. If you put it early enough, there is time for the legislature to catch up and repair their political situation,” he said.

He added that the tax reform bill could be a “linchpin” of the country’s economy.

“This is the time to do it. People are saying that it will be inflationary, yes, but the inflations are low,” Dominguez said.

He said the tax reform measure will trigger better social services for the people, as the taxes collected will translate to additional revenues.

“We are using this increase expenditure on education, health, public infrastructure. It will be better for the Filipino people and make us a better nation. You raise the taxes, but you raise the benefits provided,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)