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MANILA: The Philippines aims to sustain annual spending on infrastructure at 5 to 6 per ccent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the coming years to catch up with its Southeast Asian neighbours, a Philippine economic official said on Tuesday.

The Philippine government is committed to fostering a favorable investment climate within the public infrastructure sector,“ National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told a forum in Manila, reported Xinhua.

“The key to sustaining and accelerating rapid and inclusive growth lies in increasing investment and addressing critical constraints to high-quality job creation,“ he said, adding that high levels of investments are crucial to achieving sustainable improvements in living standards, referring to the strategy that led to the success of China and other East Asian economies.

“The Philippines has much to learn from its East Asian neighbours and must catch up with its dynamic Southeast Asian counterparts. Unfortunately, decades of neglect have resulted in significant infrastructure deficits,“ Balisacan added.

Nevertheless, the past year witnessed sustained and robust growth, promising employment figures, and a positive trend toward the inflation target, with the economy demonstrating “remarkable resilience,“ the economist said.

The GDP growth of the Southeast Asian country posted between 6 to 7 per cent for years before a sharp contraction of 9.5 per cent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After an almost two-year lockdown, the economy regained its growth momentum and expanded by 7.6 per cent in 2022.

The first quarter of 2023 growth remained strong at 6.4 per cent, “indicating a continued recovery and a return to the high-growth trend observed before the pandemic,“ said Balisacan.-Bernama