The successor of President Benigno Aquino 3rd must continue to pursue high, sustained and inclusive growth by implementing reforms that promote quality jobs and competitive sectors, top economists in the Philippines agreed at a forum on Tuesday.
Among those who gathered for the Arangkada Philippines Forum at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Parañaque City on Tuesday, Gerardo Sicat, professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics, said the next President must ensure that the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals remain stable.
“There is a need to make the economy competitive. There are still major policy issues that need to be addressed to endure that out products will be competitive along the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration framework,” he said.
World Bank lead economist Rogier Van der Brink said the next government must focus on labor market reform.
Highlighting the fact that there is high informality and a lack of bargaining power in the Philippine labor market, he said 70 percent of employees in the country have at least one aspect of informality – when they have no written contract, no social insurance, or no protection from dismissal.
Rotating people from company to company on five-month contracts is prevalent, while bargaining power is low – as evidenced by stagnant wages, despite rising productivity, he added.
“More valid forms of contracts need to be negotiated and workers should be allowed to organize themselves,” he said.
For his part, Benjamin Diokno, professor at UP School of Economics, said the next leader of the country must create a six-year plan on infrastructure development, poverty reduction, agriculture modernization and human development.
“The next president should have integrity… Should empower people,” he said.
Diokno added that the succeeding Administration must form a panel that will focus on tax reforms.
Lastly, Cielito Habito, chief of party at the Trade-Related Assistance for Development Project, stressed the need to strengthen the agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing sectors – areas that he said are the most closely linked to the domestic economy.