Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General

Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City
June 8, 2016

Dr. Mustapha Nabli, Dr. Arjan de Haan, Dr. Tereso Tullao, Jr., Dr. Celia Reyes, fellow workers from government, colleagues, development partners, members of the academe, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

It is a pleasure to join you today in the annual conference of the Partnership for Economic Policy Network. We see this as an excellent opportunity to affirm government’s deepening relationship with researchers.

We foremost recognize the importance of your work in helping advance the government’s policy agenda. As you may well know, policymaking is a long and complex process that requires a lot of consultations, discussions, and a broad understanding of issues. While a wealth of knowledge is already available to us, some information remains to be collected and further validated through research, in order to better inform policy decisions. This is where broader and deeper collaboration with research institutions acquire significance, especially with our increasing need for big data given our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals or the SDGs.

In this connection, the CBMS Network headed by Dr. Celia Reyes has been an important partner in our monitoring work on the Millennium Development Goals and now the SDGs. The inputs from the CBMS allow us to better understand issues at the level of the local communities and to decide on policies that have direct impact on the Filipino people.

This kind of partnership between government and research groups is vital in our national pursuit of inclusive growth– or as the incoming administration would have it, poverty- and inequality-reducing growth. To achieve inclusive growth, sustained economic growth is necessary. This entails an efficient use of our human and natural resources to increase our production of goods and services. But improving productivity needs policies that are informed by and are grounded on solid evidence and research to ensure their effectiveness. The data and analytical work that you contribute then become valuable as they help sharpen government’s tools for removing bottlenecks.

Indeed, this is particularly an exciting time for researchers to engage with government as the consultations for the next Philippine Development Plan begins. Guided by evidence-based policymaking, we at the National Economic and Development Authority have also started working on a long-term vision project called the “AmBisyon Natin 2040,” which should inform development planning for a longer time horizon, spanning at least four administrations.

AmBisyon Natin 2040 lays out the aspirations of the Filipinos for their self and for their country in the next 25 years on which national plans, policies, and strategies should be anchored. AmBisyon Natin 2040 also includes technical studies on thematic areas widely known to affect a country’s development and the people’s quality of life. We hope researchers will take a look at this and find in it a fruitful area for collaboration, not only with NEDA but with the entire government.

We acknowledge that researchers are normally faced with the challenge of a weak research uptake, but we believe that the discussions today can provide an opportunity for everyone to learn from each other’s experience in research and policy engagement and about which approach will work best in specific contexts. We understand that it is sometimes difficult to engage policy actors and other stakeholders. But with the growing demand for evidence-based policymaking, there is also an increasing demand for consultations and closer collaboration between researchers and government.

The issues confronting policymakers are varied and complex and I need not dwell on these here as I know you have been discussing them in the last few days. I just encourage everyone to continue promoting and providing excellent research that can be used by policymakers. The knowledge that you offer is definitely an indispensable resource in the process of policymaking and decision-making.

Finally, I congratulate the PEP Asia-CBMS Network for organizing this policy conference and our development partners for your cooperation and assistance. Most importantly, I thank all of you, researchers present here today for your efforts. Let’s continue to work for inclusive development.

Thank you very much and I wish you a fruitful forum ahead.