By JOHN TRIA
The news of the Social Weather Stations latest self-rated poverty report shows fewer Filipinos rated themselves poor than last June. The World Bank issued a statement saying that this poverty figure for the country is expected to go down further from 26% in 2015 to 20.8% in 2019, and down further to 19.7% in 2020, and 18.7% in 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/philippines/publication/philippines-economic-update-october-2019-edition)
At the rate we are going, we have already reduced poverty by 5% in three years, faster than previous administrations. These facts may not seem believable to some, but with growth continuing and spreading beyond Metro Manila, the estimates are not unexpected.
But further efforts are needed to meet government’s target of 13–15 percent poverty by 2022, while the NEDA desires a Philippines where poverty is almost insignificant, similar to Malaysia and Thailand, by 2040.
That said, meeting the target over time requires the political will to push policies that can spread the growth and boost development of the poorest provinces, many of which are in Mindanao.
Specifically, robust agricultural development programs are needed to utilize many lands previously laying idle due to conflict, and boosted connectivity to allow Mindanao’s products to be exported to the rest of the country in a timely, affordable manner.
This, along with the paradigm shifts contemplated by Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture will hopefully transform our agriculture into a high-growth and poverty-reducing economic sector similar to Thailand’s. When agriculture grows and becomes competitive, we not only will have cheaper food for the majority who consume, but farmer’s incomes will also be stable.
Increased infrastructure spending is critical, and growing manufacturing faster manner than we did last year will also be necessary to further lower unemployment and underemployment numbers.
In the short term, we need to keep inflation rates low through low rice prices, allowing majority of Filipinos to buy the staple which is 50% of their food budget. This raises our purchasing power and keeps our consumption growth strong, driving demand for goods and services that our people can provide. The result is sustained employment, and more robust growth. We hope this trend continues.
Sara wows them in Japan
Apart from the earthquakes that rocked Mindanao in the last week, the images of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio in Japan attending the enthronement ceremonies of the new Japanese emperor were shared online by what can only be seen as a growing number of fans. Impressed commenters note how her long experience as a local chief executive was clearly apparent in her ability to represent the President in such an affair.
This is because unlike their Metro Manila counterparts, local chief executives from Mindanao are required to ensure that not only garbage and traffic are properly dealt with, but that the health, livelihoods and food supply, safety and security of the citizens are protected against threats like calamities and terror. Moreover, being from Mindanao requires the skill to deal amicably with neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia with which we have common maritime borders. Being far away from the capital requires more resourcefulness and resolve to ensure these things.
Congratulations on Davao City for being the third most competitive highly urbanized city. Likewise, Mambajao, Camiguin, was the most competitive among third to sixth class municipalities, according to the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) 2019 of the National Competitiveness Council (NNC). Davao also won the bid to host the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions Conference in September 2020.
These will all boost Mindanao’s competitiveness. Bravo!
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