Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia
Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning
National Economic and Development Authority

Senate of the Philippines, Pasay City
December 7, 2016

Honorable Senators and Congressmen, colleagues and co-workers in government, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the honor of having me here today.

I acknowledge and respect the mandate of the Commission on Appointments as stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Mr. Chairman, I am a development economist by profession, with over four decades of work and experience in the academia and in the development sector, both national and international. I feel privileged to serve, at the pleasure of the President, as ad interim Socioeconomic Planning Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (the NEDA).

In my younger days, Mr. Chairman, when I was in graduate school, my ultimate dream was to serve the government in some capacity, possibly in NEDA, to help in the pursuit of our country’s socioeconomic goals. My research papers and publications, as well as columns in major dailies, besides my teaching in the university, have had to do mostly with development issues and policy reforms.

As a long-term advocate of development, Mr. Chairman, I uphold and will relentlessly pursue the mission of the NEDA, namely, formulating sound development plans and ensuring that plan implementation will achieve the goals of national and sub-national regional development. While the previous administration had initiated the formulation of a long-term vision for the Philippines, we have avidly taken it on and adopted it for development planning, and even effected the issuance of Executive Order No. 5, so that it becomes an official guidepost for the long-term vision of the economy and society.

The “AmBisyon Natin 2040”, Mr. Chairman, summarizes the goals and aspirations of Filipinos for the country over 25 years, or a generation from now, such that by 2040 Filipinos will, hopefully, “live in a prosperous, predominantly middle class society, where no one is poor.” The AmBisyon Natin is meant to be an anchor for development planning across at least four administrations, beginning with the Duterte administration.

Mr. Chairman, the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, anchored as well on the 0-10 points Socioeconomic Agenda — which we are currently crafting — aims to lay down a solid foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust society, and a globally competitive knowledge economy. The PDP serves as the backbone or bond that holds all government agencies together in aiming to achieve the administration’s goals. Since the release of the Memorandum Circular No. 12 last October 24, directing NEDA to commence work on the PDP, we have been conducting consultations across all 17 regions to involve the legislative and executive agencies, local government units, the business sector, academe, civil society, and other stakeholders.

We appreciate, Mr. Chairman, the macroeconomic stability and growth that the preceding administration has brought about to the country. We plan to not only sustain but even raise such achievement to higher levels.

Economic growth, despite being macroeconomically robust, Mr. Chairman, has not made much of a dent in reducing inequality and poverty across income classes and the regions. This is why we shall focus on regional and rural development. At this early stage, we have already processed infrastructure projects for the regions and the agriculture sector. We have managed to have the NEDA Board, chaired by the President, approve a total of 18 major projects in a matter of four-and-a-half months. All these are supportive of the 0 – 10 points Socioeconomic Agenda of the President as well as the Long-term Vision.

I am confident, Mr. Chairman, that with the strong partnership between the executive and legislative departments – and hopefully the judiciary as well – and, with the active engagement of the Filipino people, we will achieve our socioeconomic goals, hopefully, beyond this administration.

Mr. Chairman and your Honors, thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and our Agency’s mission and plans. I now humbly subject myself to this august body for consideration towards possible confirmation of my ad interim appointment as Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning of the National Economic and Development Authority — my ultimate professional dream.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman and your Honors!

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