United States President Donald Trump, addressing a joint session of the US Congress last Tuesday, called for a trillion-dollar program to rebuild what he described as America’s “crumbling infrastructure.” He said he will ask Congress to approve legislation that will produce $1 trillion – in both public and private capital – to rebuild the country’s roads, bridges, airports, and other public infrastructures.
He said the US had spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, probably referring to its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where it got mired in the still unfinished effort to bring about security and stability, first against oppressive regimes, later against jihadist forces such as the Islamic State and the Taliban. All this time, US infrastructures deteriorated, he said.
But the basic reason for the huge infrastructure program is really President Trump’s desire to create jobs for Americans. This was his greatest appeal to the voters of the US during the presidential election campaign. He said then that he would make American companies who had moved their operations overseas to return to the US to provide greater employment for Americans.
For the same reason, he said during the campaign, he would impose taxes on imports of foreign products so as to protect US manufacturers. He would reject free trade agreements that, in his view, favor other nations’ commercial and industrial development at the expense of those of the US.
The new Duterte administration in the Philippines also has infrastructure as one of its principal programs, to be carried out largely by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation which, together, have a combined budget of P850 billion in the 2017 National Budget.
They will modernize our roads and bridges, airports and seaports, and provide much-needed school buildings and hospitals. But of more immediate importance to many people is the fact that they will provide employment for millions of people. Jobs will be the first big step in solving the over-all problem of mass poverty in the country.
Our officials might also start planning other programs, like encouraging the establishment of more factories of consumer products, raising agriculture to a higher level of productivity, and drawing more foreign investment – all to create more jobs for our people.
US President Trump announced his plan for a trillion dollars worth of infrastructure as principally a way to provide work for Americans. The Philippines – where unemployment is a much more critical problem – should do no less and start planning for projects that will focus on providing more jobs for the Filipino people.