Structural reforms, inclusive growth

April 8, 2014 at 16:31

Structural reforms, inclusive growth

by Florangel Rosario Braid
March 7, 2014

Organized by the foreign chambers of commerce in the country, Arangkada 2014’s advocacy focuses on critical challenges that government and other sectors of society must address for the country to achieve equitable growth. The theme of its annual forum – More Reforms = More Jobs! is  based on an impressive assessment by 31 experts in government, industry and social sectors. It justifies its approach on the observation by many that while the macroeconomic fundamentals of the country are quite impressive, its share of foreign direct investments (FDI) leaves much to be desired. The forum opened by Dir.-Gen, Lilia de Lima of the Philippine Zone Authority, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award and who spoke on the prospects for trade and industry, included topics on job creation, infrastructure, governance, education, rule of law, and economic and development planning.

In its third annual assessment, Arangkada 2014 had prepared a list of 471 recommendations from its 2010 roadmap. Here, it set a target of  $75 billion in foreign direct investment,  $10 million jobs, and $1 million in revenues. Quite heartening indeed that this year’s assessment showed considerable improvement over that of last year with at least 73.26 percent of  the recommendations described as “active or moving” and 26.97percent “dormant”  The promotion of creative industries  and improvement in airports, showed significant change but  much more needs to be done in such sectors as environment, health, population, telecommunications, tourism/medical travel/retirement.

Has economic growth been inclusive, asks former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo.  Citing National Economic and Development Authority and other sources, he notes that growth had not made a dent on poverty because of lack of jobs, income inequality, and the continuous shrinking of the middle class. What are the needed policy reforms?  Charter change, the Freedom of Information bill, and programs in agricullture, mining,  agrarian reform, Customs, training, tourism, and infrastructure.

In competing for investments, trade, and people, our indicators must be impact, inclusive growth, and poverty reduction says Co-Chair of National Competitiveness Guillermo Luz who cites success areas like the recent 8 upgrades in credit worthiness.  But problems such as ease in doing business persist. We will need to balance scorecards in national and local governments, create new wealth, and upgrade the available information base on our national competitiveness. Where have we failed?  We need to improve time execution by being more disciplined and by adopting  a culture of competitiveness which is  a state of mind, a commitment or determination to perform, and the will to succeed.

We agree that we must act now with a sense of urgency. And we hope that the agenda of forthcoming assessments must also focus on points of controversy – e.g., Charter change and proferred strategies in confronting issues of social justice and human rights, among others. There may be a need to collect more data and to undertake a more comprehensive analysis – establishing interrelationships and improving  processes of utilizing the knowledge through better use of existing technologies in technology transfer. We need to bring in the views of the basic  sectors –especially the indigenous, and the illiterate poor. The government must  address the need to improve the information literacy of our people who should be aware of issues and must participate in decisions that ultimately affect their lives. What to do? Many would agree about our penchant for undertaking periodic studies and assessments. But these have been primarily sectoral and center-oriented. Thus, we thought that Roberto Batungbacal’s suggestion that we need to create a more broad-based coalition in our advocacy be given much more serious thought. Government, industry, civil society, the academe and other sectors must then share a common framework and work towards  common goals. This means eliminating cobwebs or cultural attitudes that have become hurdles – sectoral rivalry, turf conflict ,  win-lose, and “tayo-tayo” mindsets. The world has become intersectoral and multidisciplinary. Thus, we hope  Arangkada 2015 would endeavor to focus its assessment on this growing interconnectedness.  My e-mail is [email protected].



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