September 27, 2018

The government is committed to speeding up key economic reforms to further improve productivity in all sectors, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

In response to the report released by the World Bank titled “Growth and Productivity in the Philippines: Winning the Future,” NEDA said these reforms include the full implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Law, liberalization of foreign investments and promotion of innovation.

“From the very beginning, liberalizing the economy and promoting science, technology and innovation (STI) have always been part of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s 0 to 10-point socioeconomic agenda. We thank our partner World Bank for affirming that our development agenda is geared towards higher productivity,” NEDA Officer-in-Charge Rolando G. Tungpalan said.

In its latest report, the World Bank recognized government efforts to reach the country’s long-term vision—that is the AmBisyon 2040—and helped identify critical reform areas to achieve development goals.

Tungpalan pointed out the Philippines has already been experiencing gains with the Philippine economy’s total factor productivity (TFP) growing at 3 percent, which is now the highest in Southeast Asia.

A few milestones have been reached including the passage of the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, and the Ease of Doing Business Act, which were part of the priority legislative agenda in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the country’s socioeconomic blueprint.

Tungpalan said while more work has to be done to triple the country’s per capita income by 2040 and achieve zero poverty, the Philippines will attain the upper-middle income status by next year with more than USD4,000 per capita income.

“We celebrate these gains but we continue to work hard with our sights set on our development goals,” he said.

“The Foreign Investments Negative List (FINL) is now up for the President’s signature, and we are currently reviewing the list of government agencies whose mandates are hindering competition and growth in their sectors,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tungpalan also underscored the need to boost STI and research and development (R&D) particularly in the agricultural sector to help farmers adapt to climate change and increase farm productivity.

“With stronger typhoons expected to dampen our productivity, we need to adapt by investing in STI and R&D, particularly to increase crop resiliency, yield, and overall productivity of farms,” he said.

By estimates of the Department of Agriculture, Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) cost the agricultural sector PhP26.7 billion, affecting 570,521 farmers and fisher folk and 755,361 hectares of land.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported the cost of damage from climate-related disasters has been increasing from 2011 to 2016.  The annual average cost of damage to properties due to natural disasters amounted to around PhP46.74 billion from 2000-2016, translating to an average annual loss of 0.40 percent of the country’s GDP.