MANILA - Senator Bam Aquino on Friday described the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) positive economic forecast for the Philippines as welcome development and a challenge for the government as it pushes for inclusive growth.
"The ADB's forecast is a welcome development where it underscores the country's status as one of the strong performers in the region in terms of economy," said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
In its report, the ADB expects the Philippine economy to grow by 6.4 percent this year, better than the 6.1 percent growth projection for 2014 announced last year and the original forecast of 5.9 percent in April last year.
The ADB projection is the biggest in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia lagging in second place behind the Philippines with an expected growth of 5.7 percent. The ADB expects Vietnam to grow by 5.6 percent, Malaysia by 5.1 percent, Singapore by 3.9 percent and Thailand by 2.9 percent.
The senator also lauded the country's rise in the World Economic Forum's Enabling Trade Index, from 72nd in 2012 to 64th out of 138 economies in 2013.
However, the senator stressed that more should be done, saying that poverty numbers remain the same amid the country's steady economic growth.
Aquino emphasized that growth will not be felt unless it trickles down to the grassroots level, including the MSMEs and the unemployed youth.
"This is the biggest challenge the government is facing right now. How to bring the positive effect of this economic growth down the masses so it will be felt and enjoyed by everyone," Aquino said.
The lawmaker believes that one way of pushing inclusive growth is to boost support for micro, small and medium enterprises, which comprise 99 percent of all businesses and 66 percent of jobs in the country.
Aquino has filed seven bills to help boost inclusive growth, including the Go Negosyo Act, which was passed by the Senate on third reading.
During a recent inclusive growth summit, World Bank officials agreed with Aquino's strategy for MSME development and inclusive growth.
Aquino emphasized during the event that MSME development is a pipeline is important to optimize limited resources.
"MSME development also helps those who are in the informal sector because it will allow self-employed micro entrepreneurs to grow and hire additional workers and then formalize their business," stressed Aquino.
This way, Aquino said unemployment and underemployment would be addressed.