New finance chief old hand at economic management
BUSINESSMAN Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III, 71, plans to significantly cut poverty as he returns to the Cabinet to lead the country’s fiscal management.
Highly trusted by President Duterte for playing a key role in the campaign, Dominguez reportedly first declined the post to head the Department of Finance (DOF), but was later persuaded to serve as the leader of the administration’s economic team at a time when the country needs to be shielded from external shocks.
Dominguez headed the Department of Agriculture as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources during the administration of former President Cory Aquino, before returning to the private sector.
The Davao-based trader is described as “a successful businessman, with several high-end hotels under his portfolio such as the Marco Polo Hotel” as well as the Linden Suites at the Ortigas business district, according to a profile sent by Dominguez’s public relations team.
“He has extensive experience in the private and business sector, this experience culminating in several memberships of boards in various sectors/industries,” the profile read.
To serve as DOF chief, Dominguez had to resign from directorship positions at various listed firms, including Alcantara-led Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc. He also gave up his posts in the real estate firm PFTC Redevelopment Corp., where he was president, director and chair of the executive committee.
Among the most prominent roles he had in big business included being the chair of flag carrier Philippine Airlines from 1993 to 1995.
At the recent “Sulong Pilipinas: Hakbang Tungo sa Kaunlaran” consultative workshop between economic managers and the business community held in Davao City, Dominguez unveiled the Duterte administration’s goal to cut by 1.25-1.5 percentage points per year the poverty rate from about 25 percent at present. He said this could be done by implementing a “bold and audacious” 10-point socioeconomic agenda by the Duterte government.
Dominguez stressed that the lower rate was already supposed to be the government’s target for 2015 under its commitment to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
“It’s not ambitious; we’re just achieving what the other guys did not,” Dominguez said.
He said steady growth during the past six years—the highest average gross domestic product (GDP) expansion since the late 1970s—has not trickled down to most Filipinos.
“The high GDP growth rate which was achieved and talked about by the previous administration did not get them reelected, did it? Obviously that’s not what the people want. The people want something else, and that something else they did not do—and it was to reduce the poverty rate,” Dominguez pointed out.
With its plan to significantly slash poverty, the Duterte administration, however, is “listening to the people,” he said.
“This is what the people want. They want poverty rates to go down. They want their standard of living to go up. They don’t really care whether the growth rate is 5 percent or 4 percent or 7 percent because what they want is their personal lives are much better,” Dominguez said.
His profile said the Ateneo-educated Dominguez “promises to bring to the table a very rich and balanced view in making the hard decisions for the improvement of the Philippine economy in the coming years.”
Dominguez obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Ateneo de Manila University. He also has a master’s degree in Business Administration from Ateneo de Manila Graduate School of Business.
Dominguez also chaired the Philippine Eagle Foundation, which sought to preserve and propagate the Philippine eagle as a specie, in Davao City.
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