Aquino cites infra, tourism, agri as priorities of gov't

October 26, 2012 10:53 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 26 — President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday that infrastructure, tourism and agriculture are the topmost priorities of government to help support economic growth.

"There are three particular aspects of the economy that we are very keen on. First, of course, is to meet the infrastructure need; second, the low-lying fruit that we have identified is tourism; the third, obviously is agriculture," the Chief Executive said during the Business Forum hosted by the Asia Society on Thursday at the Shangri La Hotel, Sydney in Australia.

While the Philippines has sufficient liquidity, a stable exchange rate and a “manageable” inflation outlook along with “fiscal space” to help support economic growth, President Aquino stressed the need to strengthen the country's tourism which is another major economic contributor to the Philippine economy.

"In terms of tourism, we are very happy to note that our target by 2016 when I step down will be from a base of about three million tourists annually, we will now have a base of 10 million," he said.

"So more or less a year into office of our new Secretary of Tourism, we’re already on target to meet 4.6 million tourists by the end of this year. So we’re almost halfway there. We’re just slightly about a third of our term into office," the President noted.

Likewise, the Aquino government remains optimistic that it will achieve its goal of rice self-sufficiency by 2013, the President stressed.

"Previously, we were conditioned to believe that we had to import a minimum of 1.3 million tons of rice and, if weather cooperates, I am told that we might be exporting the higher varieties of rice, which will make my visits to the countries that we used to import from, much more pleasant because they always told me that they studied in the Philippines; they learned the lessons so well that now the masters have to eat from the toil of the students," he said.

According to the President, he intends to implement more infrastructure projects aimed at providing reliable, safe, and affordable public transportation system nationwide.

"We’re trying in support of the tourism venture, and also for connectivity, we’re improving a lot of our airports. There’s a new proposal for a new nautical highway to link Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that will cut down travel time from three days to 15 hours which is presently being studied. This is a collection of roll-on, roll-off ports and highways that will connect the same," he said.

"Light rail systems also. Manila is a very old city. Urban planning probably was not yet invented as a concept when it was started out and, unfortunately, when it started existing, too many—too few people rather, paid attention to it," he said, adding that he would not want to be the one to kick the can to the next president who will try and solve issues like flooding; how to move 14 million residents in the national capital region more efficiently and more productively," he concluded. (PNA)

HBC/PCOO/JS/UTB

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