Comprehensive strategy needed to sustain Philippine economic growth

The Philippine National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy in implementing structural reforms in order to sustain an inclusive economic growth.
Speaking at the APEC workshop on structural reforms at Widus Hotel in Clark on Monday, Economic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balisacan said that structural reforms would require a level playing field, transparency of regulations and credibility of institutions, investing in human capital and ensuring mobility to equalize opportunities.
“Acknowledging that there will always be losers resulting from the implementation of reform, we need to put in place a very effective social protection mechanism,” said Balisacan.
Balisacan underscored the need to build a constituency for structural reform that would require a strong and credible leadership. “Good governance and sound economic policymaking and management feed into each other.”
“Structural reform also entails a long-term vision and planning must be put in place by a coalition of reform champions, with support from the global community.”
He reiterated the need to generate more quality employment since a significant number of Filipinos needs to be taken out of poverty.
Balisacan noted that recent economic growth has created more jobs, though unemployment and underemployment remain high. “There are still 2.4 million people who are jobless and 7.3 million who want better jobs or more hours of work,” he said.
“The proportion of the poor has been reduced significantly, by 3 percentage points in just one year. However, the incidence is still quite high at 24.9 percent in 2013.”
He also stressed the need to deepen and broaden structural reform. “APEC provides a forum for us to interact and learn from other economies, forge cooperative partnerships based on mutually beneficial goals and in the process accelerate structural reform.”
Balisacan noted that potential gains from competition and opening up of the economy are massive, from being able to take advantage of value-for-money goods and services to access a bigger market.
“We support the move to further open markets, including reducing behind-the border barriers. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need to be brought into the global value chain to make growth inclusive,” Balisacan added.