The Department of Finance (DOF) has called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to adopt a six-point action plan geared to enable the regional bloc to be more responsive to the new challenges posed by the pandemic.

DOMINGUEZ DOF SEC OFFICIAL PHOTO - PH proposes 6-point plan for ASEAN resilience
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (Bloomberg file photo)

During the 24th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting via teleconference, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III formally proposed his six-point plan of action aimed at strengthening the region’s financial resilience against future economic shocks.

Dominguez also said this strategy, which calls for a recalibration of ASEAN’s work plans, will expand growth and employment opportunities in the emerging digital economy.

The finance chief’s action plan involves mobilizing more support for infrastructure investments in the region; expanding ASEAN’s capacity for disaster risk financing initiatives; and ensuring open trade within the region during global emergencies. 

“The free flow of goods within the region requires harmonizing our tariff and customs clearance policies. We also need to further harness technology to expand the access of our enterprises to regional and global supply chains,” Dominguez said.

He said ensuring quick access to disaster risk financing, on the other hand, will help shield the region from future economic shocks. 

Infrastructure has been proven to have the largest multiplier effect on the economy, which is why the Philippines has made investments in this sector the center of its economic recovery program, Dominguez said. 

His proposal also includes intensifying regional cooperation in preventing tax leakages in cross-border financial transactions, and developing appropriate financial instruments to help member-countries raise funds for health infrastructure and supplement fiscal requirements.

Completing the six-point strategy is the need for ASEAN to step up its information exchange on innovative technologies and expand the digital economy to boost growth and create more employment opportunities for its peoples, he said. 

“Our collective efforts on these proposed actions will enhance each country’s fiscal position to withstand future crises and bolster our economic resilience,” Dominguez said. 

He likewise called on ASEAN members to enhance their cooperation on the research and development (R&D), production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure the accessibility of developing countries to these treatments.

In the end, Dominguez expressed optimism over the ASEAN’s capability to quickly recover from the pandemic. 

“With greater solidarity and stronger collaboration, I am confident that we can quickly return to the path of inclusive growth and shared prosperity. Together, we will beat this pandemic,” he said.

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