Davao City — World Bank country director Motoo Konishi said Tuesday the Philippines was no longer the “sick man of Asia” but a “rising tiger” economy.
“The administration has demonstrated that good governance is good economics,” Motoo said during the closing ceremonies for the 2013 Philippine Development Forum.
President Benigno Aquino III said he was aiming for “growth that leaves no one behind” during the last three years of his administration.
“Development must be inclusive...There are some who wonder if our reforms will only work in the short term. They fear there may be a deadline—a limit to the success we’re experiencing,” Mr. Aquino said.
“I have no such fear because I have always had faith in our bosses: the Filipino people. Today, change is tangible—from the thousands of new classrooms, to the new businesses setting up shop, to the tourists who continue to flock our shores.”
The government last week reported that the economy grew by 6.6 percent, exceeding its target of 5 percent to 6 percent.
But the Commission on Population on Monday said last year’s economic expansion was a “jobless growth” and warned that the young population contributed to a high dependency ratio in which an average of 61 people depended on 100 working individuals.
Popcom Deputy Executive Director Rosalinda Marcelino said the real dependency ratio could be higher because not all of the 61 were employed.
“The average Filipino family is poor and suffering from all kinds of illnesses because of nutrition problems and environmental hazards,” Marcelino said.
“The rapid increase in the labor force is a challenge to employment. Even if the economy is growing, it is still a jobless growth.”
Motoo said the government must increase public spending from 2.6 percent of the gross domestic product to 5 percent by 2016 to achieve inclusive growth.
He said that, over the next three years, the Aquino administration must be able to address a ballooning unemployment rate that was expected to hit 14.6 million people.
“For the next three years, the government must improve the environment for the private sector to create jobs especially in the areas of agriculture and tourism,” Motoo said.
Mr. Aquino said his administration was now at a “critical juncture” to ensure that inclusive growth was sustained beyond 2016.
“2016 represents a deadline of which I must always be mindful,” he said.
“We want to make the most of this time to build on what we have achieved, improve where we are lacking, and fulfill our promises to our people—towards attaining inclusive growth, sustainable progress and greater peace and stability.”