Middle-income countries (MIC) like Brazil and Mexico have enjoyed relative success in reducing their respective poverty levels. Now, Philippine policymakers are looking to these countries to make sure that the local poor will not be left behind as the economy grows.
The National Economic Development Authority (Neda) said the Philippines can take lessons from its more advanced peers to improve its infrastructure programs and reduce poverty in the country.
“The variety of experiences of MICs in dealing with inequality offers a rare opportunity for learning lessons and sharing best practices … that will help achieve inclusive growth, both nationally and globally,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
In a conference held in San Jose, Costa Rica last June 12, Balisacan said that in the past two decades, substantial poverty reduction was achieved in developing countries, brought on by a comparatively rapid economic growth.
“For inclusive growth and prosperity, the MICs need to play a more active and unified role in forging a much improved environment for international trade, finance and technology,” Balisacan said. “The improvement is particularly crucial in the area of market access, especially for exports of developing countries, and access to technology.”
However, he said, the connection between growth and poverty reduction varies quite enormously between regions of the world, between countries within a region, and between geographic areas and population groups within a country.
“This opportunity for systematically expanding knowledge and best practices needs to be enhanced within the MICs,” Balisacan said.
He noted the conditional cash transfer (CCT) schemes pioneered in Latin America—such as Brazil’s “Bolsa Familia” and Mexico’s “Oportunidades,”—have helped those countries in virtually winning the war against poverty.
“In Southeast Asia, informed by the Latin American experience, the Philippines has embarked on a large-scale CCT program to complement its newly acquired status as one of the fastest growing Asian countries today,” Balisacan said.
He also identified public-private partnerships (PPPs) of having the potential to augment the public sector’s fiscal resources.
“If structured properly, PPPs can be an effective instrument for inclusive business,” he said.