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Poverty eradication topbills Duterte’s economic blueprint

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By Chino S. Leyco

The Duterte administration’s ambitious comprehensive blueprint for integrated development of the Philippines in the next six years was unveiled last year that once successfully implemented, should lift Filipinos out of poverty and boost growth in the rest of the country by 2022.

In June, 2017, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) launched the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the first medium-term program of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Under the PDP, the government aims to grow the country’s economy, as measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), by 7.0 percent to 8.0 percent and reduce the overall poverty rate to 14 percent in six years.

During its third meeting under the Duterte administration in February last year, NEDA Board chaired by the President approved the PDP 2017-2022, which is anchored on a national long-term vision, or AmBisyon Natin 2040.

The PDP also takes off from the Duterte administration’s 0-10 point Socioeconomic Agenda.

By the end of 2022, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia envisioned that Filipinos should be closer to achieving their long-term aspirations of reducing the overall poverty rate and unemployment level.

“Through this PDP, the current administration will lay a solid foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust society, and a globally-competitive knowledge economy by grounding its development thrusts on Malasakit, Pagbabago, and Patuloy na Pag-unlad,” Pernia said.

The Philippine Development Plan contains seven main parts, which include an overview of the economy, development challenges that lie ahead, and development strategies.

There are also chapters on Enhancing the Social Fabric, Inequality-Reducing Transformation, Increasing Growth Potential, Enabling and Supportive Economic Environment, as well as Foundations for Inclusive and Sustainable Development.

Targets

As identified in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, growth in GDP is expected to strengthen at 7.0 percent to 8.0 percent in the medium term, or during Presdient Duterte’s term.

The economic expansion is also expected to be more inclusive, where overall poverty rate is targeted to decline from 21.6 percent to 14 percent, and poverty incidence in rural areas to decrease from 30 percent in 2015 to 20 percent in 2022.

The government also identified in the PDP its target of reducing unemployment rate from the current 5.0 percent as of October last year to between 3.0 percent and 5.0 percent by 2022.

Included among the targets, also, are higher trust in government and society, more resilient individuals and communities, and a greater drive for innovation.

“We want the Philippines to be an upper-middle income country by 2022. With the right policies and with mutual trust between government and the citizenry, this is very possible,” Pernia said.

Strategies

The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is founded on three main pillars. First is Malasakit, which aims to regain people’s trust in public institutions and cultivate trust among fellow Filipinos.

Strategies under Malasakit include promoting awareness of anti-corruption measures, improving the productivity of the public sector, implementing regulatory reforms, increasing access to legal aid, pursuing corrections reform, and promoting culture-sensitive governance and development.

Second is Pagbabago, or inequality-reducing transformation through increasing opportunities for growth of output and income.

“Opportunities in agriculture will be expanded. We will increase our presence in the global market, and we will streamline bureaucratic processes for both local and foreign businesses,” Socioeconomic Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said. Also under this pillar, “we will pursue strategies such as achieving quality and accessible basic education for all, enhancing disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) mechanisms, and adopting universal social protection,” added Edillon.

Third, Patuloy na Pag-unlad concentrates on increasing potential growth through sustaining and accelerating economic growth, “this will be done by maximizing the demographic dividend and vigorously advancing science, technology and innovation.”

Strategies under this pillar will ensure maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability, and observing fiscal prudence while the tax system is being reformed into a much simpler, fair and equitable one.

According to NEDA, “a strategic trade policy will also be implemented alongside measures to promote competition and establish a level playing field.”

Meanwhile, under these three pillars lie four cross-cutting bedrock strategies, which are, attaining just and lasting peace, ensuring security, public order and safety, accelerating strategic infrastructure development, and ensuring ecological integrity and a clean and healthy environment.

Furthermore, to set the direction for future growth, the PDP 2017-2022 espouses a National Spatial Strategy (NSS), recognizing that population, geography, and cities are engines of economic growth.

The NSS was adopted to identify specific strategies and policies in order to decongest Metro Manila, connect rural areas to key growth areas, and to improve linkages between settlements for higher resilience against natural disasters.

The PDP 2017-2022 also gives special attention to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families. It identifies strategies and policies that will work to protect the rights of overseas Filipinos, improve their quality of life, and integrate them into the country’s development.

In expressing his support for the PDP, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that “the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is ‘close to a masterpiece,’ and is unlike any other medium-term development plan I have read.”

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