PH trek to high income status to be delayed

Despite a looming delay in the Philippines’ rise to high income status, the Marcos administration’s goal to slash poverty to a record low of 9 percent is attainable, the country’s chief economist said on Wednesday.

During the 2022 economic forum of the Economic Journalists’ Association of the Philippines and San Miguel Corp., Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan noted that during his first stint at the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), he shepherded the “AmBisyon Natin 2040” vision to make the Philippines a high income country where no one would be classified as poor 18 years from now.

“Considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving that target will likely be delayed by a few years, even under the most optimistic projections for growth. In all likelihood, new disruptions and unforeseen events will emerge—circumstances, like the pandemic, that we cannot even imagine at this point,” the head of the state planning agency said. The Marcos administration targets 6.5-7.5 percent gross domestic product growth this year, to be followed by a more ambitious range of 6.5-8 percent economic expansion yearly starting next year until 2028, in order to recover from pandemic-induced socioeconomic scarring and to outgrow the debts that piled up during the fight against COVID-19.

“Achieving the ‘AmBisyon’ is contingent on how long we can sustain a high growth trajectory for at least two more decades, similar to how the East Asian miracle economies performed when they quickly ascended the ladder of development,” Balisacan said.

The Neda chief acknowledged the risks emanating locally and externally, which he said “threaten our prospects for high growth and rapid poverty reduction.”