May 4, 2018

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia on Thursday commended the Asian Development Bank on its development work in the Philippines and cited areas that need more attention.

Speaking at a forum on the sidelines of the 51st ADB Annual Meeting at its headquarters in Manila on Thursday, Pernia enumerated some of ADB’s contributions that have made a difference to the development of the Philippines.

He said ADB has made significant efforts in policy reforms that strengthened the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals and resulted in the Philippines’ high growth trajectory since 2010.

Its poverty reduction programs, including its support to the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, helped bring down the country’s poverty incidence from 25.2 percent in 2012 to 21.6 percent in 2015, Pernia said.

Pernia said the ADB had a part in the crafting of the long-term vision or AmBisyon Natin 2040 and, more recently, the completion of the medium term Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022.

“The Bank has been a great family doctor, being among the first international responders to the disaster brought about by Super-Typhoon Yolanda, besides its customary role in providing technical assistance and advice to the government,” said Pernia who was a guest panelist during the ADB’s 2017 Development Effectiveness Review forum led by ADB Vice President Stephen Groff.

Also in the panel were Bernard Woods, director of ADB’s Results Management and Aid Effectiveness Division and Cristelle Pratt, deputy secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Pernia noted that the Philippines has 12 major infrastructure projects in the pipeline worth USD 4.442 billion under transportation, water, utilities and urban infrastructure subsectors, which accounts for about 65 percent of the total ADB lending portfolio to the country.

Meanwhile, Secretary Pernia, ADB’s former lead economist, gave his recommendations on areas and programs that the Bank should give more importance to.

These are programs related to population management, narrowing the country’s infrastructure gap, improving quality of higher education and healthcare, and promoting science and technology and innovation.

He likewise recommended other development areas that are important to the region and to the Philippines.

“There is a need for a greater focus on macroeconomic stability through surveillance to mitigate the potential buildup of economic and financial stresses,” Pernia said.

ADB should also provide support in enabling middle-income countries to transition to high-income countries.