Reforms, competent leaders critical to recovery, say economists

Published by rudy Date posted on November 25, 2021

by The Philippine Star, 25 Nov 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Top Philippine economists outlined key economic reforms and emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships, and the choice of good, competent leaders as critical to sustaining post-pandemic economic recovery during the launch of the weeklong 6th Pilipinas Conference 2021 online sessions of the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) held Monday.

In his keynote address, Former NEDA Socioeconomic Planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said: “Sustaining economic recovery post-pandemic requires that we know what were the antecedents in terms of the health system capacity, both human infrastructure and social infrastructure, and what were the amounts of spending, the timing and the allocation of COVID-19 response spending by the government, and of course it is important that we are able to dissect the ability of the country’s leadership and authorities in orchestrating needful for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He hopes that the next president will be “sufficiently intelligent, competent, insightful and foresightful, an integer – meaning a whole and not a broken and corrupted leader – and has the country and people’s welfare at heart.”

Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo raised the need for massive investments from both government and the private sector which can open in periods of stress, address healthcare deficiencies, and boost economic transition for the post-pandemic world and the digital economy.

“Good governance and institutions play a very important role not just in improving a country’s investment climate, but also promoting overall sustainable growth,” he said.

Stratbase ADR Institute non-resident fellow and distinguished visiting fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies Vicente Paqueo said that labor market regulations in the Philippines are too restrictive and burdensome compared to its peers and competitors.

Some of the strategic measures Paqueo proposed for a new development agenda are to rebalance the focus of education from “massification” of low-quality education to raising student learning achievements and increasing funding from four percent to five percent of the national budget, expansion of enterprise-based training, and a systematic review of the Labor Code together with a social contract to reform labor laws, regulations and policies.

National scientist and professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines School of Economics, Raul Fabella cited how the Philippine investment rate has historically lagged behind at a rate of 20 to 24 percent and even went down to 19 percent compared to neighboring economies which have stayed at 30 to 40 percent.

Among the recommendations he forwarded was that the power tariff for manufacturing establishments include only generation, transmission and distribution costs, allow power generation units in PEZA to reduce power costs to manufacturing by 40 percent, and pass the Easing of Land Market Bill to hasten consolidation to larger farms and encourage private capital back to agriculture.

Philippine Institute for Development Studies research fellow Charlotte Justine Diokno-Sicat sees that the role of LGUs will be critical to economic growth with strategic spending on prioritized investment programs as they receive increased funds with the implementation of the Mandanas Supreme Court ruling.

Stratbase ADRi president Dindo Manhit in his opening statement said: “The private sector should be seen as a reliable partner of government in addressing the people’s most urgent needs and building back from this economic and health crisis.”

“Through the investments, expertise, and innovativeness of the private sector, coupled with heightened cooperation with other stakeholders, we believe that the most urgent socio-economic challenges can be addressed, jobs can be created, livelihood ecosystems can be nurtured, poverty can be alleviated, and the lives of millions of Filipinos can be uplifted,” Manhit said.

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