PH on track to meet sustainable dev’t goals | Inquirer Business

PH on track to meet sustainable dev’t goals

The Philippines is making headway toward meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in terms of increasing labor productivity as well as reducing income inequality, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Jose Ramon Albert, a senior fellow at PIDS, said the Philippines’ labor productivity grew by 8.4 percent in 2017 based on results of the 2019 Voluntary National Review Report on the SDGs.


Governments around the world are striving to meet by 2030 a set of 17 SDGs, foremost being the goal of eradicating poverty in the next 12 years. SDG No. 8 relates to decent work and economic growth and SDG No. 10 is about reduced inequality.

Albert said unemployment in the country has significantly improved at 5.7 percent last year—one of the lowest since 2005, but the jobs agenda continue to be a pressing issue given the nation’s 16-percent underemployment rate.


“This suggests that a considerable proportion of those employed are looking for extra work or other jobs, which implies that the quality of jobs in the Philippines needs improvement,” he said.

While the Philippines has also improved in reducing income inequality, these reductions varied drastically across regions in the country.

“Regional income disparities are stark. For instance, the average per capita income of the National Capital Region is thrice that of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” Albert said.

He said that the government should continue to provide programs—including the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and the Sustainable Livelihood Program—to sustain the country’s momentum in achieving the SDGs.

Meanwhile, economists agreed that Congress needed to pass measures that would improve the inflow of foreign investments as well as raise the government’s revenue intake.

“We need to level the playing field and improve human capital,” UnionBank of the Philippines chief economist Ruben Carlo Asuncion said in a forum organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines and the Aboitiz group.

“To improve foreign direct investment, it’s very crucial to pass Train 2 or the Trabaho (Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities) bill, but careful not to undo the winds of economic growth sectors like business process outsourcing,” Asuncion said.


In the same forum, Moody’s Investor Service vice president and senior credit officer, Christian de Guzman, agreed, saying that the government needed to ensure that some of the gains achieved by previous administrations were “not unwound.”

“About the Trabaho bill, there are concerns from certain segments of foreign investors that if this is not calibrated correctly, then there could be disinvestment,” De Guzman said.

“What [may be] missing here in the Philippines is the development of a manufacturing sector that you have seen help Vietnam along with its development, for example,” he said. “I think a lot of that had to do with the environment for FDI. In any future [law], we don’t want that to erode even further.”

Rosemarie Edillon, undersecretary at the National Economic and Development Authority, said the government needed to expand economic opportunities that facilitate access to these economic opportunities.

“I agree that we need to do something about certain policies that restrict access of foreign investments into our country,” Edillon said.

She said there was also a need to improve existing laws on public service, foreign investment and retail trade liberalization.

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TAGS: Jose Ramon Albert, labor productivity, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
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