VICE President Jejomar Binay on Friday laid out an economic agenda that he said government must pursue to ensure that more people, particularly the poor, benefit from the country’s economic gains.
“We must make sure that our economic gains are felt by the greater mass of our people and we must energize the manufacturing, agricultural and other sectors of our economy. Inclusion and diversification must be the key elements of our strategy,” Binay said at the Banyan Tree Leadership Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C.
A copy of his speech was send to his office in Manila.
“We must raise infrastructure spending from the current 2 percent of our GDP to a truly progressive five percent of GDP; investing in infrastructure that raise the quality of the lives of our people and also enhance the country’s economic climate,” he added.
Binay stressed the need for government to expand and enhance the delivery of social services, particularly in education, health, environment and social welfare. He also pushed for the promotion of entrepreneurship development to provide livelihood opportunities.
“And finally, we need a new executional paradigm that is aligned with sectoral, geographic and ground level realities. It means that we must understand the unique requirements of each economic, geographic or political sector and adjust our executional strategies accordingly,” he said.
The Vice President noted that the government’s agenda should include the liberalization of the economy to improve competitiveness and attract investments into manufacturing and other stagnant sectors.
According to him, the Philippines’ economic growth was fuelled by the boom in the services sector, particularly in the business process outsourcing industry, as well as the remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“The Philippine economic miracle is the tale of two economic sectors: the booming business process outsourcing industry and the record high remittances of our Filipino overseas workers. This however underscores the soft underbelly of the Philippine economic boom,” Binay said.
He also urged reforms in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) to lower the high costs of power and address the energy shortages in the southern regions of the Philippines.
“We must modernize our agriculture to raise our farmers’ productivity, one of the lowest in the region, and correct the inefficiencies of the agriculture supply chain that allow as many as eight layers of middlemen to deprive the Filipino farmer the full value of their produce,” the vice president said.
He expressed belief that the emerging regional economic integration programs will increase the Philippine economy’s opportunities for expansion and diversification.
“These regional economic agreements provide rare business opportunities not only for regional companies but also for U.S. firms seeking a large integrating market and more economic resources to enhance their global competitiveness,” he said.
Binay noted that with the impending Asean integration, “greater economic engagement with countries in the region becomes a major component of the US rebalancing strategy.”
“And given its long history and diversity of its economic partnerships with US firms, the Philippines expects a greater share of its benefits. In particular, we want to raise the inflow of job generating US foreign direct investments or FDI’s, the flow of which into the Philippines is the lowest in Asean,” Binay said.