Philippines now a 'rising tiger' - World Bank official

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2013 03:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2013 06:41 AM

DAVAO CITY — President Aquino cited the gains that his administration has achieved, recognizing the need to ensure that these gains are felt by as many people as possible.

In a speech at the Philippines Development Forum, Aquino mentioned the country's 6.6 percent GDP growth in 2012 exceeded targets.

He described this period as a “critical juncture” in his administration, a time to look back at the “progress” that the country has made and strategize for further improvement.

“The improved consumption capacity of Filipinos means that our growth has benefited households as well. Moving forward, the challenge will always be how to ensure that our gains are inclusive, or more inclusive,” Aquino said.

The PDF is a venue for government to engage various stakeholders in a dialogue to generate commitments and recommendations for the government’s reform agenda.

There is a generally positive tone in the meeting as World Bank country director Motoo Konishi summed up the discussions.

He said there is a consensus that the Philippines is no longer the “sick man of Asia” but a “rising tiger,” citing the government’s macroeconomic stability, the government’s “sound and improving” fiscal situation, its improved transparency and fight against corruption.

“A striking story emerges out of these discussions: It is remarkably similar across a wide range of stakeholders and this is how it goes. First, [the] Philippines is no longer the sick man of East Asia but the rising tiger,” Konishi said.

Mr. Konishi enumerated the recommendations of stakeholders in five areas: economic development, human development and poverty reduction, justice and peace, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and governance and anti-corruption.

In economic development, the stakeholders stressed the need to ensure the creation of quality jobs especially in the area of agriculture and tourism; simplify business regulations; reduce barriers to entry in shipping; improve infrastructure and power especially in Mindanao; and pass measures such as the fiscal incentives bill.

In human development and poverty reduction, the stakeholders recommended the expansion and improvement of access to government programs in health, education, livelihood, and social protection, with added focus on special disadvantaged groups such as the out-of-school youth, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities.

In justice and peace, the forum cited the need to restore trust in the justice system reduce case backlogs, addressing corruption in the judiciary, and supporting community-based traditional systems of justice such as the Shari’a.

The participants called for the fast-tracking of the vulnerability and risk assessment to mitigate the effects of climate change and disasters.

In governance and anti-corruption, participants recommended that the monitoring and evaluation of government performance be strengthened and give added focus on governance reform in Mindanao.