PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told Cambodia-based businessmen on Thursday, November 10, 2022, that his government is gearing towards developing the domestic market, touting the country’s wide potential for both foreign and local investors.

In a roundtable discussion, Marcos encouraged top company chief executive officers (CEO) in Cambodia to invest in the Philippines, noting the “much-improved investment opportunities in the country” as it emerges from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“A hundred and seven [million] people is a big market and we have to develop that market. We have not developed our own markets. And I think that is another potential that we can exploit down the road,” the President said.

Marcos said that capital-intensive investment is “very important” in the country as he aims to improve the manufacturing sector in order to balance it with the service sector.

The goal, he said, is to have a balanced economy on the contributors to the gross domestic product (GDP) between the manufacturing side and the service side.

In order to make this happen, Marcos said the government needs partners from the private sector.

Marcos said a lot has changed in the Philippines under his leadership in terms of policies and procedures when it comes to public-private partnerships and even government-to-government partnerships.

He highlighted the Philippines’ economic achievements, particularly the drop in the unemployment rate in September to five percent from 5.3 percent during the month prior.

He also noted the report of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) that the Philippine economy grew by 7.6 percent in the third quarter of 2022, faster than the 7.5 percent expansion in the second quarter of 2022 and the seven percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2021.

Neda earlier assured Marcos that the country remains on track to achieving the government’s growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent for 2022.

“It looks like the route that we have taken is taking the economy in the right direction and as I was telling some of the Cabinet members, I think the Philippine economy, the important elements are in place and you can feel that our economy is trying to grow but is really being pummeled by the forces outside of which we have no control,” Marcos said.

Marcos also tackled during the meeting his administration’s aggressive housing program to address the backlog of six million units for Filipinos.

He said they are aiming for the construction of one million low-cost and socialized homes each year.

In building houses, Marcos said, “you cannot just build a house, you have to build a community.”

“Otherwise, it is not practical for people to live there. So there has to be schools nearby, work cannot be farther, commute cannot be more than one hour, there has to be a marketplace, all of this. The transportation is easy to get to,” he said.

The Malacañang earlier said Marcos will sign an executive order to reserve idle government lands for housing projects.

Marcos said the Philippines and Cambodia agreed to strengthen collaboration in various fields such as agriculture such as mechanization and food processing, energy, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and digitalization.

He said Cambodia also expressed intent to hire more Filipino nurses for elderly medical care, partnerships for garment and traveling bag manufacturing business, as well as rice importation. (SunStar Philippines)