(STAR) By Paolo S. Romero - The Arroyo administration vowed yesterday that it "will do whatever it takes" to achieve a six-percent annual growth rate and reduce poverty incidence by half in the next three years.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the government aims to "drive a new dawn for the Filipino people" as he called on Filipinos in the country or abroad "to row together in one direction as we navigate the challenging seas ahead."

"The upcoming years of steady (gross domestic product) growth shall be matched with basic social services aimed at lifting up the threshold 50 percent of the population who still live below the poverty line," Bunye said.

With the influx of investors and tourists in the country in the next three years, the government expects to create more than three million jobs "on the strength of an investment climate marked by good governance and a level playing field."

"This administration will not rest on our laurels but continue to implement fiscal reforms as well as lower the cost of doing business in the country," he said, referring to the steadily declining budget deficit.

In a brief interview with The STAR after presiding over a televised roundtable discussion in Malacañang, President Arroyo said the country may already be experiencing a seven-percent growth in gross national product (GNP) that includes foreign income, including remittances from overseas Filipino workers according to analysts.

She said the main drivers of the economy for this year would be the intensive skills and services sector such as the information and communications technology (ICT), tourism and business process outsourcing, (BPO) and the government itself.

"Now that we have the wherewithal to spend and we will probably have a budget approved, it would be on the increased investment in infrastructure, education, and health and job creating activities," Mrs. Arroyo said, referring to the improved fiscal and revenue position of the government.

She said the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan aims to achieve a GDP growth of seven percent by 2010.

Mrs. Arroyo said her three-day trip to Davos, Switzerland last week to speak at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) resulted in at least $1 billion in investment from one company alone.

She said she could not reveal the name of the investing company nor their business as it might affect negotiations or competitors might preempt the plan.

While in Davos, the President said the country’s steady growth since 2005 "is the longest period of consistent growth that we’ve had for a long time."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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