“ . . . Growth is here but development is not.”
Strong words from Mr.Norio Usui, Senior Economist of the Asian Development Bank as he spoke on the issues and challenges faced by the Philippines with AEC 2015 just around the corner.
Usui said in his message that “the key challenge of the Philippine economy is the missing link between growth and development when the Asean member states become fully integrated economically in 2015.” He adds while the economy is stronger today, the benefits of such growth are not felt by the people at the grassroots level.
“Despite the economic growth, the labor market indicators continue to show that over 7 percent of the Filipinos here can’t find a job and about 20 percent of the people continue to be classified as underemployed. Filipinos still do not enjoy the benefit of the strong economy,” Usui said.
Usui was one of the speakers at the 2nd National Competitiveness Council Dialogues organized as a continuing effort of the Department of Trade and Industry and the NCC to prepare stakeholders for the implementation of AEC in 2015. Entitled “Getting Ready for Asean Economic Community 2015” held at the AIM Conference in Makati City, this time, discussions centered on identifying strategies that businesses in the Philippines can adopt to prepare for regional economic integration.
Attended by more than 100 participants from the private sector, the government and media, the dialogue started with an assessment of the status of the Philippine economy and the issues and challenges that need to be addressed and resolved for the country to be well-positioned come 2015.
While the Asean common market in 2015 will create new demands both within and outside the region and facilitate technology transfer and contribute to efficiencies in production, Usui cited the “political unstable pace,” strict constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, inefficient infrastructure, poor business and investment climate, and environmental climate as issues that should be addressed by Filipinos. And that while “everyone celebrates the Philippines economic performance,” Usui says “we still have homework to do” in order to benefit from the Asean Economic Community integration where the region will be transformed into a single market with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital. With the population of over 600 million people and combined gross domestic product of nearly US$3 trillion, the Asean would be the 7th largest economy in the world.
So while we are being entertained by stories on PDAF, DAP, and implicated legislators going to jail, let us not forget the issues that are closer to home. Will we survive the onslaught of AEC 2015?
God is Great!