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Make growth inclusive, P-Noy tells NEDA

- Iris Gonzales () - May 18, 2012 - 12:00am

Manila, Philippines -  President Aquino has instructed the country’s new socioeconomic planning chief to address “critical constraints to growth” and make development inclusive so that it benefits everyone.

In his press conference as the head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said his marching order is to wipe out growth bottlenecks.

President Aquino appointed Balisacan to the NEDA portfolio to replace Cayetano Paderanga Jr. who resigned last week due to health reasons. Balisacan is widely known for specializing in agriculture and poverty research.

“And this has been my marching order: to address the critical constraints that make growth slow, uneven and exclusive to certain sectors of society. Certainly, the Philippine economy is growing, but we need to make it grow faster and to sustain high growth for the long term. There is also no question that we need the growth to be more inclusive, across and within sectors and areas of the country,” said Balisacan, who served as dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics.

Balisacan believes that a key to poverty alleviation is improving agriculture productivity.

He said that economy is growing but that the pace of growth should be faster.

As NEDA chief, Balisacan said he would strive for the implementation of policies that would help push economic growth to seven percent to eight percent so that it would benefit more.

He did not say when exactly the economy would likely hit the seven percent to eight percent growth target but agreed with government that at this rate, growth would be more inclusive and beneficial to everyone.

“There’s no reason for me to believe that we can’t do seven percent to eight percent growth,” he said but quickly added that high growth is not “manna from heaven.”

He said the constraints must be addressed. These include the high cost of doing business and improving the quality of human capital.

In the area of infrastructure, Balisacan said there is a need to build high quality infrastructure projects.

“Infrastructure support is clearly linked with poverty reduction. The public-private partnership program is just one of the many tools to achieve this goal. We will continue the initial strides of the PPP Center and we hope to further make PPP projects attractive to investors even in rural areas,” Balisacan said.

In the area of trade, Balisacan believes that the Philippines should tap other market for exports to cushion the Philippines from external shocks such as the ongoing conflict between China and the Philippines over the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

“We will likely see modest effects but we need to intensify our efforts to diversify trade with other countries,” he said when asked if the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal conflict would have a significant impact on export growth.

The government is aiming for a five percent to six percent growth this year, higher than the 3.7 percent growth recorded in 2011.

BALISACAN CAYETANO PADERANGA JR. CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES GROWTH NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PRESIDENT AQUINO SCARBOROUGH SHOAL SOCIOECONOMIC PLANNING SECRETARY ARSENIO BALISACAN UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS
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