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Neda Chief Ernesto Pernia said the Duterte administration will address inequality through implementation of people-centered policies

The economic and social priority of President Rodrigo Duterte is “addressing inequality” said NEDA Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Director General Ernesto M. Pernia, adding that the uneven distribution of wealth is the reason for the Philippines’ high poverty rates for the past years. In a luncheon briefing hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Pernia emphasized that the Duterte administration will strategically prioritize and address poverty reduction through regional and rural development and forthright  implementation of reproductive health policies.

The NEDA chief said there is a need to nurture entrepreneurship and attract investments to improve the quality and quantity of jobs outside Metro Manila in order to distribute economic growth to benefit the countryside. Pernia also said the Duterte administration is eyeing to increase annual infrastructure spending and facilitate public-private partnerships outside mega-urban areas (which are NCR, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon) to increase the regional GDP distribution of untapped regions to our country’s GDP.

A strong reproductive health law is also needed, said Pernia, to slow down population growth and allow better redistribution of resources among families. The Duterte Administration eyes to lower poverty rate from the current 22 percent to 14 percent in 2022.

While the Philippine economy has sustained its growth during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, Pernia noted that the performance could still be improved for the country to be able to finally reach inclusive growth. Through people-centered strategies and pro-poor policies included in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP) – the country’s socioeconomic blueprint under the Duterte administration – Pernia is confident that the economy is highly likely to meet the 6.5 – 7.5 percent growth target for 2017.

Pernia also noted the need to shift from a consumption-driven economy to an investment and export-driven one to achieve growth. At present, consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of the economy. He said agriculture and manufacturing sectors should be supported to create more jobs even for the less-skilled members of the labor force, adding that the share of services in the economic output may have to be reduced even as it is now a huge contributor to economic growth. Pernia also said there is a need to raise agriculture productivity by helping farmers transition to higher-value crops and improving farmers’ access to technological innovations.

In order to pave way for a healthy investment climate, Pernia noted several steps that the government will undertake such as cutting red tape, easing constitutional restrictions on foreign direct investment and putting in place a competitive tax system.  Along with better infrastructure and an improved law and order situation, these initiatives are expected to bring in more investments that will create more jobs and ultimately reduce poverty.

Photo courtesy of NEDA Facebook Page

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