Congresswoman Anna Victoria Veloso-Tuazon, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan Uy, Urban Land Institute Philippines Chair Jean de Castro, leaders from the private sector and the academe, guests—good morning.

Congratulations to ULI for organizing this conference. It is an honor to stand before you today as we gather for this forum to discuss the vital role of physical and digital infrastructure in shaping the future of the Philippines and its economy.

The Philippines is on a path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our country is moving toward robust economic expansion. For a long time, our economic growth has been consumer-driven. Now, our goal is to achieve an investment-led economy that brings shared prosperity to all Filipinos. We seek to harness foreign direct investments as drivers of export growth, sources of vital technology, and critical enablers of the country’s long-term climate action.

Integral to catalyzing the growth of investments and businesses, and in enhancing ease of doing business, is connectivity—both physical and digital. Following the President’s directives, we shall build better and more infrastructure. Our national development plan highlights digital and physical connectivity as crucial given our country’s archipelagic feature.

We are connecting our ecozones, trade centers, and manufacturing and logistics hubs. This should serve the needs of businesses locating in the Philippines. Connecting urban centers and rural areas, we enable more balanced growth among regions, too.

Building infrastructure enables us to address transport and logistics constraints, energy supply shortages and costs, and connectivity issues that stifle economic activities.

The development of robust infrastructure is the key to unlocking business opportunities and stimulating and sustaining economic growth. By investing in high-quality infrastructure, we not only enhance the overall business environment but also pave the way for increased investment.

In fostering connectivity, economic activity, and public service delivery, infrastructure development plays a critical role. Improved physical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and public transportation, expands accessibility, drawing investors to previously underserved regions and driving inclusive growth. Infrastructure bridges gaps in time and space, facilitating the movement of people and goods, improving productivity, and making local production nationally and globally competitive.

Furthermore, infrastructure development balances growth opportunities across communities, enabling efficient social service delivery, job creation, and improved welfare. By investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure, we safeguard our businesses and citizens NO: PRU-015-2023TR

from the devastating impacts of natural disasters, such as typhoons and earthquakes.

In today’s world, digital infrastructure holds equal importance, enabling seamless transfer of information and communication. This empowers us to harness the potential of cutting-edge technologies like the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, which revolutionize work and businesses. A strong digital infrastructure allows the government to deliver services more efficiently and transparently.

Asia’s impressive economic growth in the early 2000s was fueled by infrastructure development. To maintain this momentum, developing countries in Asia must invest USD 26 trillion in infrastructure from 2016 to 2030, as reported by the Asian Development Bank.

In the Philippines, infrastructure is going to be instrumental to our growth trajectory. Connectivity is the catalyst that accelerates investments, businesses, and industrialization. Guided by the President’s directive, we are committed to building better more transformative infrastructure.

Our government is steadfast in its investment in infrastructure. Our strategic plan involves allocating at least 5% of the country’s GDP to infrastructure development, focusing primarily on transportation and connectivity projects. The NEDA Board has recently approved PHP 9 trillion in high-impact Infrastructure Flagship Projects, which aim to enhance physical and digital connectivity, water resources, health, power, and agricultural infrastructure.

To achieve comprehensive infrastructure development, we harmonize our master plans at national and local levels. Collaborating with local governments across the country is vital as responsibilities for local infrastructure and planning are gradually devolved to LGUs.

In our pursuit to foster business growth and attract investments, we are connecting ecozones, trade centers, and manufacturing and logistics hubs throughout the nation. For instance, the 147-kilometer commuter rail will seamlessly connect technology industrial sites in CALABARZON to Clark Airport, driving economic growth.

Public-private partnerships, as President Marcos Jr. highlighted, are being resorted to in expanding our infrastructure in aviation, rail, road, and maritime transport. These partnerships complement our government-funded projects, including expressways, inter- island bridges, and disaster preparedness initiatives. Of the 194 NEDA Board approved flagship projects, 45 will be financed through collaboration with the private sector, covering health facilities, port and airport development, and railways, among others. We expect the private sector partners to provide not just finance, but also technology and management expertise and system.

The Philippines is making remarkable strides in digital infrastructure, with one of the fastest-growing digital economies worldwide. As e-commerce continues to expand, our government remains dedicated to promoting digitalization of micro, small, and medium enterprises and attracting investments in digital infrastructure.

We are also spearheading the Digital Cities Program, aiming to establish IT-business process management locators in 31 cities across the nation by 2025. Alongside this, we are focusing on the digital transformation of government to enable efficient service delivery and increased transparency.

Digital transformation opens up opportunities for stronger governance. In December 2022, the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board, an agency under DTI, received ISO Certification for its commitment to streamlining construction licensing. This noteworthy achievement contributes to the growth of the construction industry, which accounted for

12.7% of the country’s GDP in 2022.

Indeed, the development of physical and digital infrastructure offers boundless opportunities for industry growth, increased productivity, and attracting investments to the Philippines. As a united government, we will continue to work tirelessly toward promoting businesses and industries in line with our economic agenda. We pledge to enhance our infrastructure, reaching every town, city, province, and region, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Thank you.*

Date of release: 29 March 2023