By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Public construction is quickly catching up with the private sector in the overall domestic industry as government’s huge infrastructure program starts kicking in.
According to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, public construction has increased its share to overall construction activity in the country to 32 percent in the first half of 2018 from only 26 percent in same first half in 2017.
In 2017, private construction accounted for the bulk at 74 percent share.
“The Philippines’ robust economic growth is fueled by the strong performance of the construction industry,” cited Lopez in a speech at the 3rd Philippine Construction Industry Congress.
GDP growth stood at 6.3 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the first semester of 2018. Among the three major economic sectors, Industry recorded the fastest growth at 7 percent. Among the four sub-sectors of Industry, Construction posted the highest growth rate at 11.5 percent, more than doubled its 2017 growth of 5.3 percent.
Construction output has accounted for nearly 6 percent of GDP on average over the 2010-2017 period. In the first semester of 2018, its share to GDP has climbed to 6.5 percent coming from 6.2 percent in 2017.
The construction industry substantially contributed 32.8 percent to overall capital investments in the country during the first semester of 2018.
Increase in construction investment is due to high consumer confidence, modest inflation and interest rates, and improving labor market conditions.
The construction industry is in the limelight following the government’s aggressive commitment to approve and implement more big-ticket infrastructure projects.
“The “Build, Build, Build” program will allow our budget for infrastructure to grow to 5 to 7 percent of the GDP over the medium- to long-term,” said Lopez.
During this “Golden Age of Infrastructure,” the Duterte administration has identified 75 flagship infrastructure projects to be constructed or implemented in the medium term.
Looez said the “BBB” will also help facilitate greater trade and investment. On one hand, it will open access to new markets. On the other, it will minimize trade and logistics costs. These, in turn, will support overall efforts to generate decent employment and job opportunities for Filipinos.
Lopez noted that the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP) has partnered with the Development Bank of the Philippines to provide training and financial assistance to contractors.
The construction sector has helped addressed job employment opportunities brought about by the booming of the construction industry.
The share of the construction industry to total employment of the country is 9.3 percent in the first semester of 2018. It continues to provide job opportunities, employing a total of 3.826 million workers, up by 13.2 percent from the same period in 2017.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) expects around 820,000 jobs to be generated with a number of infrastructure projects breaking ground for the year 2018. More jobs are expected to be generated in the construction sector under the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program, and Filipinos will be high on the priority list of employment opportunities.
To address the skills mismatch and the deficit in trained manpower, CIAP is doing all-out implementation of activities to capacitate our human resources in the construction industry.