25 September 2012

ADB: ‘Philippines must take right road to inclusive growth’

The Philippines needs to ensure that economic development be felt by the masses, said an economic expert during the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Economic Forum held here in the Freeport on September 4 at the Lighthouse Marina Resort.

Norio Usui, ADB senior country economist, said that in order to fully enjoy the economic growth that the country is experiencing, key policy challenges should be discussed so that the Philippines can embark on a sustainable and inclusive growth.

Usui said that although the Philippines has a very strong services sector in the form of business process outsourcing (BPO), “it is not sufficient to address development challenges to inclusive growth.”

He noted that the services sector’s labor demand is only one percent of the total labor force and is biased towards the relatively skilled workers, thus leaving the majority of the labor force underutilized.

He said that the country should develop the industrial sector, since it can help create more job opportunities for the growing labor force.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia, who also spoke during the forum, shared this view and added that inclusive growth is critical now that foreign economies are moving to Asia.

“It appears that with the present situation now in Europe and America where the economies are very bad because of the Spanish and the Greek crises, they are now really looking at Asia,” he said.

Garcia also noted that the country is enjoying a very stable economic growth, something that the Philippines has not experienced for a very long time. He attributed this to the good governance of the present administration.

“It’s a very good time for the Philippines,” Garcia asserted. “As I’ve always mentioned, I think the main reason why the foreign investors are very interested in the Philippines now is because they perceive the new administration under President Aquino as a very stable one, a very transparent one,” he added.

However, Garcia said that this development should shift down to the masses, otherwise it would be meaningless.

“How can you sustain a growth rate constantly increasing? There is a lot of pressure; there are a lot of factors that come into that,” Garcia also said. “So are we just looking into a temporary situation wherein the Philippines is on the upswing, or are we going to expect a clash with foreign economies? We must consider these things,” he further noted.

The forum was attended by SBMA officials and representatives of locator companies in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. (FMD/MPD-SBMA)

Norio Usui, ADB senior country economist, explains the need for policy changes to bring about sustained economic growth in the Philippines during a forum at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.