Agriculture human capital to push Philippines to upper middle-income status

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Upgrading to the upper-middle income status remains achievable if the country will focus on improving the agriculture sector and its human capital, according to Socioeconomic Planning secretary Karl Chua.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the government continues to strive to achieve the 2040 vision where everyone is living in a more comfortable middle-class society.

Chua said this could be done by improving the agriculture industry and human capital.

“The Philippines has great potential, but to sustain our next level of development, we have to innovate and further improve the way we do things,” Chua said.

According to Chua, the Philippines should gradually shift to a new framework where the ideas are coming from within the country and contributed by its very human resources.

This compares to the current set-up where the Philippines is simply assembling products and using ideas that were generated from other countries.

“There is a temptation to jump to high skill manufacturing and services, but we cannot sustain our growth without strengthening agriculture and human capital. It would only create a division where only a few will benefit from the latest research and technology,” Chua said.

While the country has advanced in macro-fiscal policy, the NEDA chief argued that there is a need to address the microeconomics by pursuing foundational reforms in agriculture and human capital development.

Laws that are expected to further develop human capital include the Universal Health Care Law, Philippine Identification System, Enhanced Basic Education, Philippine Innovation Act, Innovative Startup Act, Philippine Space Act, and the Balik Scientist program to encourage more innovation.

On agriculture, the government passed the Rice Tariffication Law and is removing the remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers that reduce food security.

The newly-enacted Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act also provides more performance-based tax incentives with high priority on research and development.

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