Philippines a ‘rising tiger’ – World Bank

'The Philippines is no longer the sick man of Asia,' says World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi

MANILA, Philippines – Macroeconomic stability, and transparency and accountability reforms in the Philippines have allowed the country to catch up with its peers in the region, World Bank Philippines Country Director Motoo Konishi said Tuesday, February 5.

“The Philippines is no longer the sick man of Asia, but the rising tiger,” Konishi told reporters in a briefing.

“The Philippine economy is going strong despite the global uncertainty,” he added. 

The Philippines grew 6.6% in 2012, besting even its closest rival, Indonesia, which posted a 6.2% growth.

Jobs, infra spending

Konishi said this is an “opportune time” to implement other reforms that would ensure the country is treading the path to inclusive growth.

He said inclusive growth means decent jobs and poverty reduction. To achieve this, he said the country needs to place greater emphasis on job-creating sectors such as agriculture and tourism. 

Honing the two sectors will entail the passage of several laws such as those on national land use, competition, and cabotage, which refers to the carriage of cargo between two points within a country by a vessel or vehicle registered in another country. 

These measures must go hand in hand with better infrastructure spending. Konishi said that the country has not yet increased its infrastructure to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to the recommended 5%. Currently, the country spends 2.6% of GDP on infrastructure such as roads, transport, power and irrigation.

Konishi also said the government must increase social services spending, particularly for disadvantaged groups such as out-of-school youths, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities. 

He earlier said that the Philippines needs to create 14.6 million jobs from now until 2016 to absorb the country’s labor force. Konishi said the job opportunities locally as well as abroad are not enough to accommodate all the Filipinos looking for better jobs. 

“This is the most opportune time to speed up reforms for achieving inclusive growth or growth that creates more decent jobs and reduces poverty,” Konishi said. 

Aid

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said donors have been given a better view of what the Philippines still needs to meet its growth and development potentials.

Mindanao, for one, is expected to get more Official Development Assistance (ODA) from donors. The Philippines’ poorest region is expected to get more aid for road networks that connect farms and ports, courtesy of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The government also said the USAID is focused on helping solve the energy problem in the region while the United Nations and European Union have expressed their willingness to help displaced communities due to recent calamities that hit Mindanao.

For the social sectors, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman said the government is helping 321,000 families transition to self-sufficiency after graduating from the Conditional Cash Transfer program. 

Soliman added that the DSWD is working with the Department of Labor and Employment to remove some two million children out of child labor. 

The agency, she added, is working with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to train some 900,000 out-of-school youths to gain training in vocational courses such as welding and cosmetology. 

She also said the DSWD and the National Economic and Development Authority are in the process of crunching poverty data. The two agencies expect the results of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey conducted in 2012 to be released in the first quarter of 2013. – Rappler.com