Government to work on lasting, structural reforms for irreversible growth
With the theme of “President Aquino’s Social Contract: Moving Forward in Achieving Inclusive Growth and Good Governance,” the 2013 Philippines Development Forum commenced today in Davao City with over 300 representatives from national government, international development partners, the private sector, civil society organizations, and the academe.
During his speech, President Benigno Aquino III said, “The continued presence of the country’s development partners is a sign of confidence. The Philippines Development Forum represents the very best of the ideals behind public-private partnerships.”
Focused on the government’s inclusive growth and governance agenda, Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima said the government came together with its development partners and other stakeholders to assess the administration’s performance over the past 2 ½ years, examining how it has pushed forward in achieving the goals of President Aquino’s Social Contract with the people.
“Our remarkable and impressive performance in 2012—a stellar and resilient economic growth, a robust fiscal position and a renewed trust in our institutions—have put the Philippines back into the limelight,” Purisima said.
PDF Co-Chair and World Bank Philippine Country Director Motoo Konishi said, “The Philippines is no longer the sick man of East Asia, but the rising tiger. There is macroeconomic stability, and the fiscal situation of the government is sound and improving. The fight against corruption is being waged with determination and it is paying off. Transparency is improving everywhere in the Philippines.”
The government highlighted that job generation is the only way to make economic development truly inclusive. In the next three years, the administration will focus on creating the environment for the private sector to create jobs, especially in Mindanao, and in the agriculture and tourism sectors. The cost of doing business should be reduced through simplification and streamlining of business regulatory processes.
“To support this agenda, Congress needs to enact critical laws such as the National Land Use Code, the Competition Policy Law, and the Cabbotage Law. These would have country-wide impacts, but more so in Mindanao, which is recognized as the food basket of the country and where inclusive growth would make the greatest difference in people’s lives,” said Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning Arsenio Balisacan.
The government, keen on increasing infrastructure spending from 3% to 5% of GDP by 2016, said a coherent and efficient transport roadmap with links to key areas will need to be adopted. Expanding access to basic social services and improving the quality of the administration’s programs will be integrated to achieve better convergence at the national, regional and local levels.
On the Rule of Law, the government continues to re-establish trust in the justice system while continuously addressing challenges through strengthening information systems, linking budget performance for state institutions and better interface between state and non-state justice institutions. The last point is of particular importance for Mindanao and the Bangsamoro where traditional systems remain the predominant forum for dispute resolution. Support for the shari’a justice system was also identified as an important priority in the context of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The Governance and Anti Corruption working group agreed on the three broad areas encompassing citizen empowerment to demand better services and good governance; strengthening public financial management through better monitoring and including the private sector participation in the efforts to improve governance, especially at the local level.
Climate change and disaster risks were also identified as a critical sustainable development and national security issue. The government continues to address this through a comprehensive and innovative climate change and disaster reform agenda comparable to world standards. The administration aims to complete the reforms, address bottlenecks and speed implementation before the end of the Aquino administration.
Finally, the participants addressed how to best further integrate Mindanao into the country’s medium and long-term development plans, highlighting the significance of holding the PDF in Mindanao.
“The Filipinos have always known Mindanao to be the Land of Promise, because of its great potential for growth and development. Unfortunately, for the longest time, this potential remain untapped and its promise, unfulfilled. This history is precisely why the development of Mindanao is a priority for our administration,” the president said in his speech.
“The breakthrough in the peace process has become an impetus to greater investments not only in the Bangsamoro but also in the entire Mindanao. The potential of Mindanao for agriculture and tourism, among other industries, has long been recognized and will soon be realized.” Purisima added.
“The objective of putting the country irreversibly onto a path of inclusive growth—growth that creates jobs and reduces poverty is within reach. We have noted the hard-fought battles over key reforms. We have seen the improvements in the budget: better prioritization, better execution, better monitoring and more transparency. We welcome the scaling up of expenditures on health, education and social protection. We are seeing infrastructure spending going up and becoming more strategic and efficient,” WB Country Director Konishi added.
“When government, civil society, business and development partners work together, we can deliver better results through synergy. Now we must work harder to accelerate and entrench reforms so that we can ensure the irreversibility of good governance.” Purisima added.