Aquino vows to sustain, make economic growth inclusive in next 3 years

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04:51 PM February 5th, 2013

By: Karlos Manlupig, February 5th, 2013 04:51 PM

President Benigno Aquino III. FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—President Aquino said sustaining the economic growth achieved in 2012 would be among the serious challenges his administration would face in the next three years.

“The challenge will always be how to ensure that our gains are inclusive, or more inclusive,” Aquino said in a speech delivered during Tuesday’s closing ceremony of the World Bank-sponsored Philippines Development Forum held here.

Mr. Aquino said he would like to lay down a clear path for the country’s future in the last three years of his presidency.

He said his government would look into measures that provided success and those that did not.

“Right now, we are at a critical juncture. As we near the midpoint of our term, it is all the more important for us to look back on both our successes and shortcomings, so we can strategize for the future,” he said.

Mr. Aquino then added that “we want to make the most of this time to build on what we have achieved.”

“Improve where we are lacking and fulfill our promises to our people — towards attaining inclusive growth, sustainable progress, and greater peace and stability,” he said.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said increasing public spending on infrastructure would be one way to sustain the 6.6 percent growth in 2012.

Motoo Konishi, World Bank country director for the Philippines, earlier said addressing the large unemployment in the country should be a priority for the government.

“The need for good jobs — jobs that raise real wages or bring people out of poverty is an overwhelming challenge,” he said on Monday, adding that between now and 2016, the government should take measures to create a total of 14.6 million jobs.

Konishi said the World Bank would like to help the government address joblessness.

“We all need to collaborate a lot to ensure that all of our programs and assistance or policy reforms are filtered through the lens of the creation of jobs,” he said.

During his speech at the PDF’s closing ceremony, Mr. Aquino considered growth sustainability and other challenges as “daunting tasks” but he said the committed support of private partners and groups helping the country would go a long way in addressing these issues.

He cited the significance of the private sector’s contributions to the rise of the gross domestic product.

“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,” Mr. Aquino said.

He said economic growth benefited from his government’s “commitment to good governance — ensuring that integrity, transparency, and accountability guide government operations.”

“Restoring faith in systems eroded by corruption also means holding each public servant and institution up to the standard of integrity,” Mr. Aquino added.

He said the achievements the government has attained in the past three years proved critics wrong because the sincerity and effectiveness of his government have been recognized across the globe.

“Perhaps one of the most telling signs is the increased confidence of the international community, which I have observed in my meetings both here at home and abroad,” Aquino said.

“The continued presence of our international partners in the country is another sign of confidence,” he added.

He said the international community has started seeing the Philippines as “different from the Philippines of the past.”

With the combined efforts of the government, the private sector and the Filipinos in general, an environment of equal opportunities now exist in the country, according to President Aquino.

“This is borne of a recognition that development must be inclusive: if we are to foster growth that leaves no one behind, each and every person must be empowered not only to prosper and reach personal success, but also to be a better citizen,” Mr. Aquino said.

This was also the reason why the government made the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF) one of its top priorities, the President said, in recognizing that a peaceful solution to the Moro rebellion would be one of the keys to speeding up the country’s economic growth.

“We Filipinos have always known it to be the Land of Promise, because of its great potential for growth and development. Unfortunately, for the longest time, this potential remained untapped, and its promise, unfulfilled; instead, some parts of Mindanao were known by many for violence, inequality, and corruption in local governance,” Mr. Aquino said.

He stressed the imperative to step up reforms in Mindanao “if we are to foster inclusive growth.

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