Aquino touts Philippine economic growth

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Filipino workersDevelopmental progress in the Philippines has set new benchmarks, yet only represents the “tip of the iceberg,” President Benigno Aquino III said in his closing speech at the Philippine Development Forum (PDF), held at the Marco Polo hotel in Davao, on February 5.

“Today, change is tangible — from the thousands of new classrooms, to the new businesses setting up shop, to the tourists who continue to flock our shores. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: a sea change is also taking place in our mindsets,” Aquino told an audience including members of the World Bank, NGOs, governmental development bodies and journalists.

Aquino pointed to higher than expected economic performance by quoting the World Bank’s latest assessment of the Philippines, which put 2012 GDP growth at 6.6 per cent.

Once derided as the “sick man of Asia,” the macroeconomic pulse of the archipelago has become more vigourous in recent years.

“In the last two and a half years, we have seen economic fundamentals consistently improve,” World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Motoo Konishi said on February 4 at the PDF.

“Among the biggest contributors to this growth were trade, renting and business activities, real estate, construction activities, and, on the demand side, household consumption, and net exports. These indicate increased private sector activity and capacity, signs that growth has become more sustainable,” Aquino said.

Aquino’s speech follows the two-day Mindanao Development Forum, a precursor to the PDF, which established that the Philippine government has shifted Mindanao to the top of its developmental agenda.

“It is only fitting that we are holding this forum [in Mindanao],” Aquino said. We Filipinos have always known [Mindanao] to be the Land of Promise, because of its great potential for growth and development,” he continued, but admitted that “this potential remained untapped, and its promise, unfulfilled; instead, some parts of Mindanao [are] known by many for violence, inequality, and corruption in local governance.”

Focus Mindanao

During his speech, Aquino also announced that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the break away state at the heart of the island’s rebellion, would be allotted “8.59 billion pesos for development projects, from the construction of necessary infrastructure in transportation and health, to improving the quality of education available, to even strengthening the halal food industry.”

The ARMM will also have sychronised elections in 2013 with national and local elections, allowing those of the disenfranchised Bangsamoro ethnic group to vote for their own candidates.

Inclusive growth

The Philippines has to make its economic success story more inclusive to its countrymen if the vision is to sustain itself past 2016, the year his second term would end if he gets reelected in 2013, Aquino said.

His administration is off to a good start. The 2013 budget for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programme, the national welfare and development programme, has increased four times from 10 billion pesos in 2010 to 44.3 billion pesos and is designed to serve more than 3.8 million families.

Additionally, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), once a “den of corruption,” according to Aquino, also registered more than 12 billion pesos in savings, while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collecting at least 1 trillion pesos for the first time in history, Aquino said.

OFWs’ criticism

For all the talk of inclusiveness, critics remain at the heart of much of the source of the Philippines’ kinetic growth model.

“We have heard enough of this claim of economic growth,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante – Middle East Regional Coordinator said in The Philippine Star.

“This time, President Aquino has claimed the same – that the Philippines is taking off to attain development with a yearly sustained economic growth,” adding that “it cannot be felt by us.”

“How can we, Overseas Filipino Workers and our families, appreciate [Aquino’s] economic growth claim if most of us are suffering the brunt of economic hardship?” he asked.

To achieve the prosperity spoken of this past week, the Philippines will need to do more to address not only the unmentioned warring factions in Mindanao, including ongoing conflict between Abu Sayyaf, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group, and the Moro National Liberation Front (not to be confused with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), but also Filipinos abroad.

It is certain. Talks of a unified country must consider plans to bring back the up to 12.5 million people who have sought economic opportunities elsewhere.

 

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Developmental progress in the Philippines has set new benchmarks, yet only represents the “tip of the iceberg,” President Benigno Aquino III said in his closing speech at the Philippine Development Forum (PDF), held at the Marco Polo hotel in Davao, on February 5.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Filipino workersDevelopmental progress in the Philippines has set new benchmarks, yet only represents the “tip of the iceberg,” President Benigno Aquino III said in his closing speech at the Philippine Development Forum (PDF), held at the Marco Polo hotel in Davao, on February 5.

“Today, change is tangible — from the thousands of new classrooms, to the new businesses setting up shop, to the tourists who continue to flock our shores. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: a sea change is also taking place in our mindsets,” Aquino told an audience including members of the World Bank, NGOs, governmental development bodies and journalists.

Aquino pointed to higher than expected economic performance by quoting the World Bank’s latest assessment of the Philippines, which put 2012 GDP growth at 6.6 per cent.

Once derided as the “sick man of Asia,” the macroeconomic pulse of the archipelago has become more vigourous in recent years.

“In the last two and a half years, we have seen economic fundamentals consistently improve,” World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Motoo Konishi said on February 4 at the PDF.

“Among the biggest contributors to this growth were trade, renting and business activities, real estate, construction activities, and, on the demand side, household consumption, and net exports. These indicate increased private sector activity and capacity, signs that growth has become more sustainable,” Aquino said.

Aquino’s speech follows the two-day Mindanao Development Forum, a precursor to the PDF, which established that the Philippine government has shifted Mindanao to the top of its developmental agenda.

“It is only fitting that we are holding this forum [in Mindanao],” Aquino said. We Filipinos have always known [Mindanao] to be the Land of Promise, because of its great potential for growth and development,” he continued, but admitted that “this potential remained untapped, and its promise, unfulfilled; instead, some parts of Mindanao [are] known by many for violence, inequality, and corruption in local governance.”

Focus Mindanao

During his speech, Aquino also announced that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the break away state at the heart of the island’s rebellion, would be allotted “8.59 billion pesos for development projects, from the construction of necessary infrastructure in transportation and health, to improving the quality of education available, to even strengthening the halal food industry.”

The ARMM will also have sychronised elections in 2013 with national and local elections, allowing those of the disenfranchised Bangsamoro ethnic group to vote for their own candidates.

Inclusive growth

The Philippines has to make its economic success story more inclusive to its countrymen if the vision is to sustain itself past 2016, the year his second term would end if he gets reelected in 2013, Aquino said.

His administration is off to a good start. The 2013 budget for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programme, the national welfare and development programme, has increased four times from 10 billion pesos in 2010 to 44.3 billion pesos and is designed to serve more than 3.8 million families.

Additionally, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), once a “den of corruption,” according to Aquino, also registered more than 12 billion pesos in savings, while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collecting at least 1 trillion pesos for the first time in history, Aquino said.

OFWs’ criticism

For all the talk of inclusiveness, critics remain at the heart of much of the source of the Philippines’ kinetic growth model.

“We have heard enough of this claim of economic growth,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante – Middle East Regional Coordinator said in The Philippine Star.

“This time, President Aquino has claimed the same – that the Philippines is taking off to attain development with a yearly sustained economic growth,” adding that “it cannot be felt by us.”

“How can we, Overseas Filipino Workers and our families, appreciate [Aquino’s] economic growth claim if most of us are suffering the brunt of economic hardship?” he asked.

To achieve the prosperity spoken of this past week, the Philippines will need to do more to address not only the unmentioned warring factions in Mindanao, including ongoing conflict between Abu Sayyaf, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group, and the Moro National Liberation Front (not to be confused with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), but also Filipinos abroad.

It is certain. Talks of a unified country must consider plans to bring back the up to 12.5 million people who have sought economic opportunities elsewhere.

 

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