PH can become upper middle income country by 2019 – NEDA

MANILA, Philippines – Banking on the high growth of the country's gross national income (GNI), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) sees the Philippines becoming an upper middle income country by next year, or 3 years ahead of target.

"Our target to become an upper middle income country is in 2022. But we think we will get to that stance much earlier. We look at the GNI per capita increased by 6.5%. That is a high growth path. I think we will reach that as early as next year," NEDA Undersecretary for national policy and planningRosemarie Edillon said on Tuesday, April 3.

The GNI is the gross domestic product of a country plus its international income. (READ: What's ideal monthly income for family of 4?)

But Edillon said the challenge lies in inclusion, where people from all social classes benefit from economic growth. GNI per capita reflects the average income of a country's citizens.

To become an upper middle income economy, a country should have a GNI per capita of between $4,036 and $12,475, data from the World Bank showed. 

At present, the Philippines is a lower middle income countrie or a country with GNI per capita between $1,026 and $4,035.

With the right policies in place, Edillon said the Philippines can become near to a high-income country by 2040.

Inclusive growth

"It means our vision to become a high income country by 2040 is within reach. The challenge is to make it inclusive – to lift everyone up," Edillon said.

Preliminary data for 2017 from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed there are 40.335 million employed Filipinos in 2017, down from 40.998 million in 2016 – a decrease of around 663,000.

This puts the annual employment rate in 2017 to 94.3%, down from 94.6% in 2016. (READ: 'Exclusionary growth' seen in big dip in PH employment in 2017)

Edillon said the big dip in Philippine employment in 2017 was due to a number of policy reforms in the labor market, like the K to 12 program.

"It brough back a number of youth outside the labor market because they are in school. A number of these job losses was really because they are studying," she added. (READ: K to 12 under Duterte administration faces new challenges)

Reynaldo Cancio, NEDA director for national policy and planning, said the dip in the employment rate in 2017 can also be attributed to job losses in the agriculture sector.

"It can be attributed to job losses from agriculture. But if you look at the past 5 to 6 years, you will see basically similar patterns. like losses from unpaid family workers. We also saw a decline in child workers in agriculture. These child workers – who are not supposed to be working – are already going back to school," Cancio told reporters.

Back in October 2016, Malacañang issued Executive Order (EO) No. 5 providing for the adoption of "Ambisyon Natin 2040," a 25-year, long-term vision for development planning.

The 25-year vision foresees a Philippines that is a "prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor." It also envisions Filipinos with "long and healthy lives," being smart and innovative, and living in a "high-trust society." – Rappler.com