Aquino cabinet drumbeating economic gains at the PDF

Feb. 05, 2013

“What resilient economic growth?” Gabriela Women’s group reacted to Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad’s opening statement at the forum which described the economic growth under Aquino’s watch as “stellar and resilient.”

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Women’s organization, Gabriela, slammed Philippine government officials for painting a lie about the country’s economic situation before international financial institution representatives attending this year’s Philippine Development Forum (PDF) that started here Monday.

“What resilient economic growth?” Gabriela reacted to Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad’s opening statement at the forum which described the economic growth under Aquino’s watch as “stellar and resilient.”

“Abad is too desperate to get credit ratings for his boss,” Gabriela said, noting that it is pathetic that he had to do it even if the job situation in the country is getting worse each day.

Data from Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation noted that the total number of unemployed and underemployed rose to a total of 11.9 million in 2012.

The pronouncements of Abad, Gabriela said, are meaningless to the ordinary Filipino.

Citing last year’s growth figure in the Gross Domestic Product which was reported at 6.6 percent, Abad said the achievements under Aquino have put the Philippines back into the limelight eliminating the country’s former label as “the sick man of Asia” into “Asia’s rising tiger.”

But Ibon Foundation cited that the country still has the worst unemployment in East Asia, compared with Thailand’s 0.6 percent, Singapore’s 1.7 percent, Malaysia’s 3 percent, Korea’s 3 percent, China’s 4.1 percent, Taiwan’s 4.3 percent, Vietnam’s 4.4 percent, and Indonesia’s 6.5 percent.

Ibon Foundation cited that all these claims about economic growth are hype “meant to create an appealing image of the Philippine economy for foreign investors.”

It added that “jobs and higher wages are the best mechanisms for inclusive growth, which can only be achieved with well-developed Filipino industry and equitable agricultural development.”

The PDF, a venue for dialogue on governance policy was attended by cabinet secretaries, World Bank dignitaries, representatives from the European Union and donor agencies.

Discussions centered on how to best engage with partners on the strategies and actions that will be pursued by government until 2016.

Reforms for effective public expenditures as well as fast and efficient implementation of the budget and delivery of priority programs and projects were also part of the talking points during the forum.

While criticisms were high over officials of the presidential cabinet’s drumbeating, foreign delegates all have positive words for Aquino.

World Bank Country Director to the Philippines Motoo Konishi, also the co-chairperson of PDF, commended the Aquino administration for what he calls the “difficult reforms” that it has shepherded through which, he added, “brings a strong message that the government is serious with its inclusive growth and governance agenda.”

Konishi said government finances are strong and getting stronger while remittances have continued to grow.  He added that the nation and the world have confidence in the Aquino administration.

The European Union also lauded the Philippine leadership for its strong political commitment to implement social policies as manifested in the increased investments in social sectors.

It has particularly stressed the remarkable progress done in the implementation of Universal Health Care, in particular in terms of financial risk protection through expanded social health care insurance coverage.

Delegation from the United States, in a statement, also commended the Philippine government stating that the US is fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to support President Aquino’s social contract and priorities through productive collaboration.

Plenary sessions for the two-day forum include presentation and discussion of the overall progress under the social contract and macroeconomics and fiscal developments; general presentation on Mindanao situation; and, addressing the challenges in achieving the social contract targets in the areas of good governance, human development, infrastructure, justice and peace and economic development.  (Alex D. Lopez/

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