ERNESTO M. PERNIA, PhD
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary
2017 NEDA Year-end Press Briefing
December 14, 2017, 10:00 AM
NEDA Board Room, Pasig City
Dear friends from the media, colleagues from NEDA, all collaborators in the endeavor for our country’s advancement, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
I am happy to see familiar faces as we conduct a year-end review. So thank you for being here with us today.
It is with pride that we close this year strong, seeing a string of successes, especially lately. Apart from the successful hosting of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, we also conducted a number of Philippine economic briefings abroad, which seemed well-received and fruitful as we got to introduce our stellar publication, the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, and the government’s ambitious infrastructure program, Build Build Build.
These would not have been possible without the strong foundations laid down in 2017 and even earlier in 2016. So let me walk you through what has happened this year and what we can look forward to in the coming year.
The Philippines remains one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. We are currently the second fastest after Vietnam (Q3 2017)—ahead of China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
We recorded a 6.7 percent growth in the first three quarters of 2017. We’ve seen robust domestic consumption and government spending, and there has been recovery in external demand. With this, we can say that we are well on the way to reaching our full-year growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent. ADB projects a full-year growth of 6.7 percent vis-à-vis Vietnam’s 6.5 percent, China’s 6.4 percent, and India’s 7.4 percent.
Our macroeconomic fundamentals remain firm and stable. Inflation keep within target, and trade continues to grow. Underemployment rate also declined to its lowest level in 10 years.
The numbers show that there are more wage and salary workers now, and vulnerable employment continues to decrease. This is definitely an improvement in the overall quality of employment in the country.
Strong economic growth aside, the biggest highlight of the year is our launch of the Philippine Development Plan, or PDP 2017-2022, last June. The PDP will guide all of government’s policies, programs, and projects for the entire duration of the Duterte administration.
We crafted the Public Investment Program 2017-2022, or PIP, which lists specific programs and projects needed for the PDP’s strategies to materialize.
We are now preparing the 2017 Socioeconomic Report to assess how far we are in fulfilling the PDP goals, as basis for determining our priorities in the short term. We will release this early next year, and this will contribute to the drafting of the 2019 Budget Priorities Framework.
As I keep stressing, the Duterte administration will be relentless and unflinching in directing its efforts toward infrastructure development, regional and rural development, and human capital development through 2022, to fight poverty and reduce inequality in our country.
In terms of projects, I am proud to report that the NEDA Board has approved 20 project proposals—14 new projects and 6 changes in ongoing projects—this year alone. Most of these projects will be funded locally or through Official Development Assistance. Counting last year’s approvals, the total is 36 projects.
Meanwhile, on regional and rural development, we successfully launched 15 Regional Development Plans, which are local counterparts of the PDP 2017-2022. The RDPs will ensure that local issues are addressed in the context of the national development agenda.
NEDA is also the lead in drafting the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, which will guide recovery efforts in Marawi City and surrounding localities.
For social development, NEDA continues to monitor social protection initiatives like increasing 4Ps beneficiaries, establishing a social protection floor, and renewing youth involvement in nation building.
NEDA has also been very active in promoting cultural awareness, which is a new chapter in the PDP. A Sub-committee on Culture was created in July this year under the NEDA Board Social Development Committee, and the subcommittee and its member agencies have already launched several initiatives to move the cultural agenda forward.
Further, I am happy to report a few things that we at NEDA have worked on this year.
In June, we created the Project Facilitation and Monitoring and Innovation (PFMI) Task Force designed to ensure that infrastructure flagship projects are implemented and completed on time.
Second, NEDA is working to mainstream migration in development planning through the Subcommittee on International Migration and Development, or SCIMD.
And third, the Economic Development Cluster has already approved NEDA’s recommendations on the 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List, or FINL. The NEDA Board on its next meeting will take this up. The revised list covers easing foreign investment restrictions on contracts for construction and repair of projects, practice of professions, telcos, teaching at higher education levels, retail trade enterprises, and domestic market enterprises.
This year has also seen many new and renewed international partnerships.
In terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA), Japan continues to be the Philippines’ largest development partner, accounting for 36 percent of total ODA investments.
Apart from Japan, we have had fruitful bilateral talks with China, Korea, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and Israel, on various development projects in line with our priorities.
OUTLOOK FOR 2018
Seeing these developments, we see steady and strong economic performance continuing in 2018.
With the PDP already in place and NEDA Board-approved projects firmed up, next year should pave the way for more projects rolling out, led by the ground-breaking of the Clark International Airport this December 20.
The raising of the Philippine credit rating to stable or “good quality” (BBB to BBB-) by Fitch Ratings will not only boost investor confidence—which, of course, remains already strong—but will also encourage the whole of government to be efficient and swift in implementing the PDP and RDPs.
In terms of policy, we expect the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN, to boost revenue-to-GDP ratio, fund government’s infrastructure program, and increase the spending capacity of the average working Filipino.
We also expect to spend more on infrastructure development to help improve regional connectivity and ease the cost of doing business in the country.
Truly, there is much to look forward to in 2018, and we are all very excited to see much-needed reforms realized next year.
I would like to thank my colleagues and constituents in government and in NEDA for the tireless work everyone has exerted this year. I hope that bearing witness to recent development feats will inspire us to work even harder.
Also, thank you to our media friends, who are our collaborators in development work, and who have always been supportive of NEDA’s advocacies. I hope you will continue to rally behind policies and programs that will be instrumental in achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
It is our wish that we all continue to be united as we keep in mind the future of the Filipino and our shared vision of a matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay para sa lahat, where no one is forsaken.
I wish everyone and your families a Merry Christmas, and a happy new year ahead endowed with good health, love, and pecuniary satisfaction.
Thank you, and mabuhay!