• USAID picks PH for growth program

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    THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has picked the Philippines as the only Asian country for its Partnership for Growth (PFG) project.

    PFG is a White House signature initiative through which the US and the Philippine governments work together to improve economic growth and development in Manila.

    “The Philippines is very, very special in the eyes of the United States,” Dr. Susan Brems, mission director of USAID Philippines, said in a Kapihan session on Wednesday.

    She added that the country has seen growth in the past years and the agency only needs to address Manila’s “constraints” to help its economy even move faster.

    “We chose the Philippines because this is the only country [in Asia]that is doing well. The people, the government, as well as the private and academic sectors are committed for the development,” Brems said.

    Among the major constraints in the Philippines’ development that she cited were weak governance, regulatory environment, fiscal space and human capital.

    In line with this, the USAID granted a P1.5-billion fund for Stride (Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development) program.

    The fund was seen as a key in strengthening the regulatory capability of the government while providing governance and capacity building training for universities in planning, financial management, patents and networking.

    Stride is a five-year program started in July 2013, under the PFG project.

    “Stride aims to spur inclusive economic growth by boosting science and technology research,” said Dr. Dave Hall, the program’s chief of party.

    As of last month, the program has awarded P144.8 million in research grants to 34 universities around the country to conduct science and technology innovation research. It has also awarded 31 scholarships to Filipinos who will study in US universities.

    “What we want is to have an economic growth that can benefit everyone,” Brems said.

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