Amended economic blueprint aims to undo virus-inflicted chaos
The Duterte administration’s remaining months would be spent on ensuring that Filipinos have access to universal health care while reversing the damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic on the education and labor sectors, the country’s chief economist said on Friday.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the Updated Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, which serves as the administration’s blueprint to reduce poverty and enhance Filipinos’ lives, would prioritize “enhancing the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act, improving the quality of instruction in education, upskilling the workforce and institutionalizing the social protection floor.”
“The [Updated PDP] will also include other reforms and strategies we will undertake to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and help every Filipino achieve the long-term vision of a ‘matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay’ by 2040,” Chua added, referring to the Philippines’ AmBisyon Natin 2040 roadmap aimed at making the country a prosperous, middle-class society where no one would be considered poor.
Chua, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), only said the Updated PDP would be shared to the public “soon.”
Chua on Friday did not respond to a query clarifying if the Updated PDP was already approved by the Neda Board chaired by President Duterte.
The interagency plan steering committee that undertook the review of the original PDP 2017-2022 green-lit the updates as early as November last year. They included a new chapter listing down the government’s priorities to protect the rights, promote the welfare and expand opportunities for Filipinos overseas.
As of Friday, the 21 chapters of the Updated PDP were still “locked” and cannot be accessed publicly on Neda’s website.
A Neda report last month said, however, that the Updated PDP downgraded the 2022 unemployment rate target to 7 to 9 percent from the prepandemic goal of only 3 to 5 percent.
Chua told the Inquirer last month the projected higher jobless rate in 2022 was mainly due to the K-12 program, with the initial graduating batch seen to bloat the labor force population. He said the impact of the new school system should normalize thereafter.
Neda had said the Updated PDP’s projected youth unemployment to climb to 20.5 to 22.2 percent in 2022 from 19.4 percent this year.
Chua had noted that “until we have reached herd immunity, some industries won’t fully normalize yet.”
Amid a pandemic-induced recession, the jobless rate climbed to a 15-year high of 10.4 percent or about 4.5 million Filipinos last year as the longest and most stringent lockdown in the region shuttered thousands of businesses and shed millions of jobs.
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