MANILA — Innovation is needed in the most basic sectors to attain the country’s 2040 vision of eradicating extreme poverty and becoming a high-income country, said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“The country’s economic performance has exceeded expectations in 2021. We expect to recover to the pre-pandemic level in early 2022. However, as this pandemic has shown, we cannot simply return to business as usual. […] Except for some city-states, no country has achieved high-income status without first addressing agricultural productivity,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said on Wednesday during the Inclusive Innovation Conference 2021 organized by the Department of Trade and Industry.

He cited the case of the Rice Tariffication Law, which succeeded in bringing down rice prices for all Filipino consumers while increasing the productivity and income of rice farmers through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

“Through more innovations and reforms aimed at addressing the country’s policy distortions beginning with the most basic sector, agriculture, we can transform our agriculture, manufacturing, and our services sectors, and provide better economic opportunities and outcomes for all,” Chua said.

Other reforms that will spur innovation in the country include amendments to the Public Service Act and the Philippine identification system (PhilSys).

“NEDA fully supports the urgent passage of amendments to the Public Service Act. Relaxing restrictions on foreign ownership will help us attract more investments and create more jobs that are crucial to accelerating our economic recovery. This, in turn, will expose us to new ideas, best practices, and high skills in an increasingly globalized world,” Chua said.

Moreover, PhilSys will provide every Filipino with a unique and digitalized proof of identity to give every Filipino, especially the poor, access to much-needed social, financial, and digital services.

As of December 10, 2021, the PSA has registered 50,014,382 Filipinos to the demographic and biometric data collection. In partnership with the PSA, the Land Bank of the Philippines has also processed 6,786,939 bank account applications for low-income families through a co-location strategy in PhilSys registration centers.

Along with these, the full implementation of the Philippine Innovation Act will further solidify the country’s growth prospects and improve its global innovation index by encouraging more research, development, and adaptation of new technologies.

As the vice-chair of the National Innovation Council (NIC), NEDA is developing the National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document. This 10-year foresight will weave and harmonize existing policies and strategies based on the evolving innovation ecosystems.

The NIC will also manage a one-billion-peso innovation fund in 2022. This will strengthen enterprises engaged in developing innovative solutions to address the concerns of the people, most especially the poor.

“Innovation is not simply about cutting-edge technology. Rather, at its core, innovation is about working together to find the best solutions to our most pressing problems – even basic ones in agriculture and financial inclusion. Everyone has a role to play in strengthening our innovation culture. We look forward to working with our partners in the public and private sector towards our shared vision of a country free from extreme poverty,” Chua said.

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