DAVAO CITY—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said if elected President, he would vigorously push for the revitalization of the country’s steel industry as one way of achieving economic growth.
He said the country has to build factories and industries to generate more jobs for the people and one way of doing that is to have a vibrant steel industry.
Industrialization is key to real economic growth, Duterte said in a video outlining his economic programs as President. “We should realize our dream of having our own steel industry,” he added.
Duterte said only by shifting to industrialization that the government would be able to provide windows of opportunity to as many job seekers as possible so people would not be longing anymore to work overseas for better income.
“Steel is needed everywhere. It is the mother of all industries and the backbone of industrialization and will allow us to build all we need in our country like cars and weapons,” he said.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also admitted on its website that the Philippine iron and steel industry was a critical component in achieving inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.
The industry provides inputs needed for infrastructure, power generation and distribution, transportation facilities and vehicles, manufacturing machinery and equipment—all of which are vital for a country’s long-term growth.
The steel industry’s outputs are utilized by both commercial and industrial enterprises, such as electronics, appliance manufacturing and shipbuilding, among others, the DTI said.
The country’s steel industry players had admitted that the Philippines has no real steel industry to speak of today.
Roberto Cola, chair of the Southeast Asia Institute of Iron and Steel, said in a speech during the group’s conference in Manila last year that the Philippine steel industry continues to rely on imports.
The country’s steel industry was adversely affected by the 2008 financial crisis that forced many producers of flat steel products to fold up.
In crude steel terms, the Philippines imports around 80 percent of its steel requirements, Cola said.
The Philippines is touted to have iron ore reserves of almost 300 million metric tons.
Duterte said one way of revitalizing the steel industry is to correct some of the country’s laws or come up with a Code of Economics.
By having this code, the country will be ready to open its doors for business and investments, he said.
The DTI also listed several ways to revitalize the steel industry. Among the recommendations was to encourage investment in the industry by making it more attractive for local and foreign investors through ISO accreditation.
Duterte also lamented the bureaucratic red tape that often drives investors away even as he said Davao City had overcome it when he imposed a 72-hour period for processing of permits and clearances for businesses.
“We will give investors more than what the other countries are giving them, even better,” he said.