Dr. Ernesto Pernia
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General
38th Annual Scientific Meeting: Looking Back and Looking Forward
Manila Hotel, City of Manila
July 14, 2016
To our distinguished members of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST);
My colleague in the cabinet;
My colleague in the school of economics;
National Scientist Raul V. Fabella; and
Acting President of the NAST Fabian Dayrit;
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to be invited to the 38th Annual Scientific Meeting, of the National Academy of Science and Technology. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) thanks and lauds the NAST for its efforts to address critical issues confronting our country.
As NAST resolutions have underscored, science and technology, as well research and development, have taken a backseat as reflected in investments or spending plans by the government and society in general. This has resulted in the struggling industrial and agricultural sectors and in turn leading to the migration of our brightest and highly-trained scientists to countries that can provide the conditions conducive to their work, not to mention the rewards for their scientific work.
This is why NEDA is in full support of NAST’s resolutions that detail the ways in which the country can harness science and technology (S&T) and research and development (R&D) for poverty and inequality reducing economic growth. President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ten-point economic agenda, already includes an item, the item number eight, it says “to promote science and technology, and the creative arts to enhance the country’s innovative and creative capacities for self-sustaining, inclusive economic development and our active participation in the global knowledge economy.
The government sees the potential of agriculture as one of the country’s major growth drivers and this is one of the emphases of this new administration, and with science and technology, it should create more jobs, especially for our less skilled members of the workforce. With the help of S&T and R&D, agriculture can be a lucrative industry that can foster food security in our country. Farmers with access to different varieties of seedlings and soil typing will no longer fear for their crops in the face of adverse weather conditions. Fishermen with knowledge of sustainable fishery need not fear about their catch during the dry season when fish tend to go deeper into the ocean.
While much has been done by the previous administration in strengthening Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which comprise 99.6 percent of the country’s total number of establishments, we still have a long way to go. But through STI, we can equip MSMEs with the technology that can create globally competitive products to meet the demands of the local and international market quality standards.
Similarly, STI can support the manufacturing and industrial sectors to raise productivity, foster the creation of high-value products, and improve the quality of their products.
Further, STI can support the long-term vision of the Filipinos, as manifested in the AmBisyon Natin 2040. It represents the collective aspirations of the Filipino people for self and for the country in the next two-and-a-half decades. As some may already know, one of the thematic papers for the Long-Term Vision shows that by 2040, a fully functioning wholesale electricity market will be in place that covers long-term sales and purchases. STI can help address the country’s increasing power needs, especially in Visayas and Mindanao, which have very thin reserves, by leading into a healthier yet more efficient and affordable power mix for our country. With the lower cost of power, our industries can be more productive and their products more globally competitive.
In addition, STI can help in upgrading the facilities of hospitals and provide better tools to health workers, especially those in public clinics and hospitals that are ill-equipped in the face of emerging infectious diseases. Meanwhile, R&D can help in finding, preventing and curing communicable, non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases thereby increasing the life expectancy of our people.
Lastly, time and again, our new President has uttered that he does not want to see people lining up for government services. This is why a major flagship item in the policies of the president is to reduce red tape to the minimum. We believe that aside from promoting productivity in government offices, STI can also provide solutions in avoiding long queues and long waiting time for frontline services, especially those that inconvenience the daily activities of ordinary citizens.
Finally, in NEDA we recognize the importance of scientific inquiry and academic discourse as the basis of development plans and policies. We believe that STI can help the country realize its economic potential and improve the well-being of the people. I would like to extend our warm and sincere congratulations to the National Academy of Science and Technology, its collaborators and staff for bringing to the fore these resolutions, which are of crucial importance in developing our country’s science and technology ecosystem for our country to move forward.
Thank you very much.