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‘Policy reforms, competence still needed for nation’s recovery’

Top Philippine economists outlined key economic reforms and emph sized the importance of public-private partnerships, and the choice of good, very competent leaders as critical to sustaining post-pandemic economic recovery during the launch of the week-long 6th Pilipinas Conference 2021 online sessions of the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) held Monday.

In his keynote address, Former NEDA Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia said, “Sustaining economic recovery post-pandemic requires that we know what were the antecedents in terms of the health system capacity, both human infrastructure and social infrastructure, and what were the amounts of spending, the timing and the allocation of COVID-19 response spending by the government, and of course it is important that we can dissect the ability of the country’s leadership and authorities in orchestrating needful for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Pernia pointed out that, “We spent only $31 billion in 2021, and even less in 2020, the lowest in ASEAN. $72 billion less $31 billion is around USD 41 billion. So, the question is, where has this $41 billion gone or how can this huge differential be accounted for?”

He hopes that the next President will be “sufficiently intelligent, competent, insightful and foresightful, an integer—meaning a whole and not a broken and corrupted leader—and has the country and people’s welfare at heart.”

Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo raised the need for massive investments from both government and the private sector which can open in periods of stress, address healthcare deficiencies, and boost economic transition for the post-pandemic world and the digital economy.

“Good governance and institutions play a very important role not just in improving a country’s investment climate, but also promoting overall sustainable growth”

“The pandemic has shown several advantages of the digital economy. The private se tor can lead in the innovation of digital products and services that would allow us to increase the breadth and reach of markets in these digital times of pandemic, even in these difficult times.” Guinigundo said.

Stratbase ADR Institute Non-resident Fellow and Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies Dr. Vicente Paqueo said that labor market regulations in the Philippines are too restrictive and burdensome compared to its peers and competitors.

Some of the strategic measures Paqueo proposed for a new development agenda are to re-balance the focus of education from “massification” of low-quality education to raising student learning achievements and increasing funding from 4% to 5% of the national budget, expansion of enterprise-based training, and a systematic review of the Labor Code together with a social contract to reform labor laws, regulations and policies.

National Scientist and Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines School of Economics, Dr Raul Fabella cited how the Philippine investment rate has historically lagged behind at a rate of 20-24% and even went down to 19% compared to neighboring economies which have stayed at 30-40%. He also pointed out that the Philippine government’s investment has been very low and has stayed at 2-3% of GDP, while neighbors have reached 9-10% of GDP historically.

Among the recommendations he forwarded was that the power tariff for manufacturing establishments include only generation, transmission and distribution costs, allow power generation units in PEZA to reduce power costs to manufacturing by 40%, and pass the Easing of Land

Market Bill to hasten consolidation to larger farms and encourage private capital back to agriculture.

Philippine Institute for Development Studies Research Fellow Dr. Charlotte Justine Diokno-Sicat sees that the role of LGUs will be critical to economic growth with strategic spending on prioritized investment programs as they receive increased funds with the implementation of the Mandanas Supreme Court ruling.

Topics: Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute , ADRi , Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia , economic recovery
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