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FEATURE STORY

Philippine development experts say: Growth should not leave anyone behind

February 5, 2010

ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES, February 5, 2010—Inclusive economic growth that does not “leave anyone behind” will require good governance and better delivery of basic public services like education, health, and water to the poorest of the poor. These were the main highlights of a forum on development issues held at the Central Philippines University in Iloilo City. Around 100 attended the event, with link up to Palawan State University.

No one should be left behind when the economy improves,” said Erlinda Ganapin, executive vice-president of the Palawan State University in her welcome remarks.

Bert Hofman, World Bank country director, said despite the Philippines’ remarkable economic growth in recent years, poverty has not gone down. This means that the type of growth that has happened is the type that the poor don’t benefit from, he said.

Experts from the panel recommended increasing investments, improving competitiveness, developing political stability through consistency in policies, making it easy for people to do business in the country, improving the delivery of basic public services like health and education especially to the very poor, investing in the mobility of workers, understanding marginalization and vulnerability, and improving transparency, among others.

There’s no magic that can be used to make inclusive growth happen. No investor in the world expects the Philippines to suddenly become a perfect environment. But a gradual improvement can work powerfully,” Mr. Hofman said.

Ulrich Lachler, lead economist for the poverty reduction and economic management sector of the World Bank, said global perspective indicates that it is critical to create income opportunities and give the poor access to these opportunities by educating them. Better planning was also underscored during the forum. Mariz Saldua, the senior operations officer for the environment of the Department of Interior and Local Government said the DILG has been working on comprehensive development plans that will be presented to those who will be holding office after the elections this year. "These plans include pro-poor programs for inclusive growth", she said.

The government, however, is not the only one responsible for achieving pro-poor growth. Rosanna Pandes of the Iloilo Caucus of Development Non-Government Organizations, Inc. said civil society organizations are now sitting in local councils; involved in the planning and budgeting process, and ensuring that people are involved in the planning to make sure that the voice of the people are heard.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Philippines has been growing quite well, but poverty has not gone down. The World Bank is all about making growth work for the poor.
  • More understanding about the term “inclusive growth” is needed. Government and civil society need to look into how local plans come to life and who are involved, and how these plans involve the poor.
  • There is a need for a sense of shared responsibility. We all have a role to play. The key element is trust.
  • Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) or the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is a major breakthrough in protecting marginalized and vulnerable groups.
  • Civil society is getting more involved in governance and social accountability. By measuring the government’s performance, they are helping local governments become better governing entities. Performance indicators are needed to seriously improve governance and delivery of basic services.
  • Transparency plays a key role in making governments accountable for their actions and policies.

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