Economic challenges await next President
The country’s next President will be facing substantial economic challenges that include high poverty incidence and unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, a neglected agriculture and vulnerability to disasters, a former Cabinet secretary said yesterday.
“The Philippines has experienced significant growth in the past few years but sadly, investments remain anemic; poverty is stubbornly high; there is a huge number of openly unemployed and low productive workers, and (we have) an industrial sector unable to absorb our growing labor force,” said former Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri.
Speaking at a Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) meeting yesterday, Neri said “a passive, trickle down approach will not work in a country where the rates of poverty and joblessness are high,” as he stressed the importance of inclusive growth in addressing the country’s woes.
In achieving inclusive growth, the future administration must create a climate conducive to a high rate of productive investments; increase productivity of agriculture, manufacturing, and other industries and services; increase in employment and increase in incomes, Neri said.
“The government must take the lead role in putting up productivity-enhancing infrastructure; improving regulatory and policy environment; reducing the cost of business; assisting the micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises,” Neri told PCCI members.
Neri focused largely on the need for productivity-enhancing public infrastructure, which was needed to reduce production and logistics costs, enhance workers’ productivity, stimulate a second round of private sector investments in manufacturing, agribusiness and tourism.
Other critical infrastructure issues that need to be addressed, he said, included power shortages and high power costs; slow Internet speed; transport congestion in airports, seaports and roads; urban overcrowding and informal settlers; water supply and vulnerability and limitation of the Angat water supply; flooding; and agriculture and food logistics, he said.
According to Neri, priority infrastructure projects must include rehabilitating the Pan Philippine Highway; fast-tracking the completion of the MRT and LRTs; executing flood control projects, and fast-tracking the Kaliwa and Laiban Dam as alternative water sources.
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