Road repairs a mechanism to cope with US downturn
Baguio City—The road repairs in several areas in the summer capital may have slowed down traffic and local business, but it reinforces the strengths of the tourism industry when the impact of the United States economic downturn reaches the Philippines, President Aquino said here on Friday.
The President visited Baguio to lead the ceremonial lighting of Burnham Park, which was a part of his commitment to Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon to help reinvigorate city tourism.
But Mr. Aquino, in a press conference at Camp John Hay, said the road repairs he saw on his way to Baguio have indeed upset the local economy.
At least three major national roads here have been closed to traffic for at least four months so these can be re-paved and their drainage systems improved. More national roads would be closed soon for major repairs.
Officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways last week said they were tasked to upgrade all national roads in the city between 2011 and 2012.
Mr. Aquino, however, said it made better sense to spend public money now on improving roads and upgrade tourism infrastructure given the sorry shape of world trade.
The US received its first credit downgrade last week and various European countries are near bankruptcy and may jeopardize the value of their common currency, the euro.
Mr. Aquino said the government is investing early in infrastructure before it secures loans to pursue bigger projects.
Taxes and public and private loans make up the money allocated by this year’s General Appropriations Act.
“As I understand it, 45 percent of world trade is based on the American market. If their problem worsens, that’s like the end for half of the trade in the world market. If that happens and economic activity slows down, we estimate that by 2013, the credit rate for money we would need to borrow would increase,” he said.
“So at this point, it makes better sense to borrow while we have money we can borrow at a low rate than wait for the period of tight money when it will no longer be cheap,” Mr. Aquino said.
The President said he was disturbed to find parts of Marcos Highway under repair.
“I called Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson [on Thursday night]. He promised that within a month, the repairs would have been completed as far as Marcos Highway is concerned,” he said in Filipino. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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