Finance chief: Gov't eyes more infrastructure projects outside Greater Manila

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Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez (King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said on Wednesday the government is planning more infrastructure projects outside of Metro Manila.

"[W]e want to create jobs for people there, good jobs, so that we can reduce poverty in those areas." He pointed out that the infrastructure projects are aimed at connecting farmers and small businessmen in the "outlying areas" to the "main consuming areas" of Metro Manila.

Dominguez said funds for these project will come from loans pledged by China during President Rodrigo Duterte's visit there last month.

"We received pledges from China for six billion dollars [Around ₱289.8 billion] worth of ODA (Official Development Assistance) and three billion dollars [Around ₱144.9 billion] worth of loans," Dominguez pointed out.

Dominguez said the President has verbally agreed to designate the Investment Coordinating Committee of the National Economic Development Authority to be "the focal point" of the management of the country's relationship with China.

"Once the President has actually signed an order to do that, the ICC will go to China and ask the Chinese government to designate a single focal point also in China so that the dealings can be government-to-government and the ICC will ask the Chinese government to designate and accredit the companies that they believe can do the projects to accredit them so that we will-so that the Philippine side will know which companies to deal with in China," he explained.

The Finance chief believes the President maintains a policy that would "open doors" to all. He specifically described the country's economic policy with regards to China as "very sound."

"You know, China has a population of 1.3 billion people and they need products that are produced in the Philippines-agricultural products, as well in the future, manufactured products. So it makes sense for us to have a good relationship with them just as the U.S. has a good relationship with them and so have the Europeans."

Peso's slide 'not necessarily bad'

According to Dominguez, the peso went down by one and a half percent against the dollar from September 21 to October 28.

"The Thai Baht went down by one percent. The [Japanese] Yen went down by three and a half percent. So across the board, across the world, currencies have been depreciating against the U.S. Dollar and primarily, it's because of the potential increase in interest rates in U.S. Dollar."

He said people are buying U.S. Dollars to position themselves if the U.S. Federal Reserve increases interest rates.

He added that a decrease also means more cash to spend: "[W]hen the peso slides, let's say, 50 centavos, that means to say you have 25 billion more pesos in the Philippines for people to spend. For people to buy condominiums, for people to spend for education for their children. So it's not all bad. Agricultural products that are exported will certainly benefit."