Work needed on linking human dev’t to growth

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The government has made major strides in terms of investing in human capital but much remains to be done to link this with achieving inclusive growth, a Cabinet official said.

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Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan conveyed the message during a United Nations Development Program discussion on Monday regarding the 2015 Human Development Report launched in December last year.

According to the report, Human Development Index values are rising cross Asia and the Pacific due to years of sustained economic growth and fast technological progress. For the Philippines, it said the Philippines’ 2014 HDI of 0.668 was above the average of 0.630 for countries in the medium development group, following Indonesia and ahead of Vietnam.

The report noted that exponential technological growth, deepening globalization, aging societies and environmental challenges were transforming what work meant today, presenting opportunities for some but profound challenges for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It also urged governments to act immediately to prevent widening inequalities.

“Investments for building human capital are a must and would require increased resources for social development that will enable equitable access to health, education, housing and social protection services,” Balisacan said.

He claimed that over the past five years, the government had made major strides on this front, such as improvements in employment, increased expenditures for social services and providing necessary knowledge and skills to people.

“There are also continuing efforts to develop more comprehensive social protection and labor systems for learning and collaboration among partners and stakeholders,” he said.

Balisacan, who is the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said the government has also been strengthening enforcement of health and safety standards and implementation of labor legislation.

“Nevertheless, much remains to be done to link work with human development and inclusive growth,” Baliscan said.

The NEDA chief said the government had concluded that the provision of decent work, higher productivity rates and a reduction in the number of the working poor were some of the immediate challenges.

The high percentage of own-account workers and unpaid family workers, skill mismatches and the lack of jobs for sustainable development also need to be addressed, he said.

“Apart from these . . . a high number of women and children trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, and . . .  children still working in hazardous or dangerous conditions and who are exposed to various forms of sexual and economic exploitation, including the worst forms of child labor continue to plague us,” Balisacan said.

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