Mr. Motoo Konishi, Co-Chair PDF
Country Director, Philippines, World Bank
More than 300 participants coming from the government, civil society, academe, private sector, and the international development partners met yesterday until this morning to discuss the country’s development agenda for the next three years of the Administration. A striking story emerged from these sharing of opinions.
The story goes this way.
The Philippines is no longer the sick man of Asia, but the rising tiger. There is macroeconomic stability. The government’s finances are sound and improving. The fight against corruption is paying off. There is greater transparency. The leadership’s commitment to good governance is inspiring confidence in the country’s prospects. As a result, the Philippine economy is going strong despite the global uncertainty.
This is the most opportune time to speed up reforms for achieving inclusive growth or growth that creates more decent jobs and reduces poverty. The delegates came up with a report, a set of policy recommendations, which was presented to President Aquino this morning during the final session of the PDF. That report is part of your kit.
Please allow me to mention some of the recommendations.
For growth to be truly inclusive, it is important that more and better jobs are created. In the next three years, the country needs to put greater focus on creating the environment for the private sector to generate jobs, especially in agriculture and tourism.
Support for agriculture and tourism is particularly important for job creation. These sectors also create more jobs and economic opportunities in other areas of the economy. To support this agenda, legislators need to enact critical laws on national land use, competition policy, and the cabotage rule.
All these reforms would have positive impacts across the country. It’s even more important for Mindanao, the country’s food basket. It’s in Mindanao where inclusive growth would make the greatest difference in people’s lives.
Policy makers can reduce the cost of doing business by simplifying business regulations. Barriers to entry for private business have to go, especially in the areas of inter-island shipping, which would also help reduce the prices of food.
Underpinning inclusive growth is better infrastructure (roads, transport, power, irrigation, among others). Government spending on infrastructure needs to increase from 2.6 percent to 5 percent of GDP.
A coherent and efficient intermodal transport linked to growth areas is necessary. For Mindanao, there’s a need to augment the stimulus funds for infrastructure development for youth employment (particularly power, roads and ports) to reap the dividends of the much-needed stability and peace.
The country needs to continue expanding access to basic services: health, education, and social protection. There should be particular focus on disadvantaged groups, including out-of-school youth, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities.
In the interest of better jobs, we need to strengthen public-private partnerships to address skills mismatch, modifying curricula to better meet the needs of the labor market.
Other recommendations for policy reforms—which are just as important as those on the economy—concern the rule of law and the justice system, governance and anti-corruption, and climate change. We may tackle them in the question-and-answer part of this press conference, if you like. For more information, visit the PDF website (pdf.ph).