Labor and Employment

Subsidies (not studies) for the skills mismatch

A national apprenticeship program that provides subsidies to both employers and employees in areas where a skills mismatch has occurred would fix the problem.

The president in answering the questions submitted and rated by viewers on Youtube reiterated many of his “talking points” during his second State of the Nation Address. This comment was raised by many viewers of the 43 minute “Ask PNoy” event co-hosted by World View and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

The very first question asked concerned the plight of millions of Filipinos who seek employment overseas because of a lack of opportunities at home. The president’s reply was to cite the same statistic he noted during his SONA with regard to the skills mismatch of about fifty to sixty thousand job openings on the government’s PhilJobs.net website that have remained unfilled (see video below–at around the 1.30 minute mark to about the 3.30 minute).

The president’s solution as he declared during his speech last July was to instruct the agencies concerned to study ways to address this imbalance through the educational system. This is well and good, but the immediate concern of filling these vacancies, plus the prevailing unemployment of close to three million Filipinos needs to be addressed soon, not down the track.

During his interview, the president spoke of various government sponsored programs: (1) to address the need for “green” energy by replacing thousands of diesel powered engines and vehicles that make up our transport infrastructure, (2) to provide thousands of housing units to soldiers and policemen to address the peace and order situation in the countryside, (3) to beef up our coastline security through a defense modernization fund, and (4) to expand social insurance through conditional cash grants to indigent families to address intergenerational poverty.

But when it comes to addressing the first imperative of any government which is to provide jobs, jobs, jobs, it seems the solutions are not as solid or programmed, as such. A very quick and do-able solution would be for the government to provide employment and training subsidies to the firms unable to fill job vacancies.

The purpose of this subsidy would be to defray part of the costs of training cadets or apprentices on the role they will fill within the firms seeking to employ them. Part of this  subsidy could go to the employer to help pay for the wages of unskilled apprentices and trainees while they undergo a period of formal schooling, on-the-job training, or a combination of both.

This could last for a period of between eighteen-to-thirty-six months. To qualify for such a subsidy, the employer would have to show that an advertised job vacancy remained unfilled by qualified workers after a period of say six-to-nine months.

Another part of the subsidy could go to the apprentice or trainee for such things as transportation, uniforms, tools (if needed for the job) and other similar work-related expenses. Formal contracts of training would stipulate the responsibilities of each party under such a scheme and reviewed periodically.

Fifty-to-sixty thousand internet job ads on the government's website are not filled according to employment officials.

Fifty-to-sixty thousand unfilled vacancies is nothing to sneeze at. It constitutes about two percent of the nearly three million unemployed members of the workforce.  It would cost around one-and-a-half billion pesos annually to provide a two-and-a-half thousand peso subsidy per trainee each month (thirty thousand a year) assuming all of these vacancies are filled via this approach. That is a rounding error in the government’s total budget of over one trillion pesos.

It would provide presumably high paying, sustainable jobs in the end–something that social insurance programs cannot boast of. Surely with the “savings” PNoy was quite happy to highlight during his interview such an “investment” in people’s human potential would be worth making. Surely a new initiative such as this with a very modest budget impact and a significant contribution to raising employment would have earned the president praise from all sides (both employers and employees included). So why shouldn’t he do it?

That question sadly remains unanswered, but if the president were to temporarily overcome his strong aversion to criticism as he expressed by way of a Christmas wish to Santa towards the end of the interview, I am sure it could be made to work real soon.

Towards a Strategic Development Road Map (Update)

The following is a matrix of the Strategies contained in the government’s Philippine Development Plan 2011-16  plotted against the five key results areas under the Cabinet Cluster system of the Aquino Cabinet.

The five themes include: 1) Good Governance and Anti-Corruption, 2) Human Development and Poverty Reduction, 3) Economic Development, 4) Security, Justice and Peace, and 5) Climate Change, Adaptation and Mitigation. This was contained in Executive Order 43: Pursuing our Social Contract with the Filipino People Through the Reorganization of the Cabinet Clusters.

The strategies under each theme were taken from the Philippine Development Plan 2011-16. In some cases, the actual targets were contained in it or some other announcement such as the renewable energy target. Some targets we are actually proposing here based on the intent of the PDP and other statements by the government. Some targets remain ambiguous or require quantification, but at least a measurement indicator is identified here.

This should form the basis for a periodic review of the government’s progress in meeting its official development plan and agenda. In the future, we will be revisiting these targets to hold this government to account. Comments on the construction of the matrix are quite welcome. Feel free to point out things that are missing or need to be revised.

Scorecard of Social Contract and Philippine Development Plan 2011-16 Targets

UPDATE:

Good governance targets

I chose to go with the World Bank’s Good Governance indicators because the government has adopted its whole philosophy of economic development from the Washington Consensus. It is only but fitting that it should benchmark itself against the indicators set by this Washington-based institution.

In setting the targets for the nation, I had to benchmark our rating with our East Asian neighbors. For instance under control of corruption, the Philippines and Indonesia were at 27.1 and 28.1 respectively, China and Vietnam were at 36.2 and 36.7, Thailand was at 51, and Malaysia was at 58.1 back in 2009. Hong Kong and Singapore were in the 90s.

It is only but fitting that we try to break into the range of Thailand and Malaysia. So I said we need to be achieving above 50%. I used a similar approach with the other indicators in this area.

Human Development and Poverty Reduction

Most of the targets found here were lifted from the government’s plan. The only target which I had to set on my own was the HDI target. To do this I simply projected the current trend from 2005 to 2010.  The target of reaching a 0.65 value for HDI means we would catch up to where Thailand and Sri Lanka were back in 2010.

All the other targets dealing with poverty reduction, literacy, land reform and distribution, Pantawid Pamilya recipients, housing and reaching the MDG targets were all based on official published documents by the government.

Economic Development

Most of the targets came from official published documents by the government. The only targets where I took the liberty of setting were the fiscal spending targets, but even there I took the policy pronouncements contained in the PDP into account.

For example, the PDP stated that its Medium Term Expenditure goal was to “substantially increase productive expenditures and catch up with the accumulated deficits in these areas.” It also noted that in 2007, the average expenditure on education among our Asian neighbors was 3.9% of GDP. To “catch-up” and make up for our accumulated deficits, we would need to at least match that spending, which is reflected in the target.

Aside from education, the PDP also made mention of our infrastructure spending which is woefully inadequate when compared with that of China, Vietnam, and Thailand which spent upwards of 7, 8 and 14% of GDP over the last decade. The 5% target was based on the World Bank’s recommended level for a middle income country such as ours. In other words, it was a modest but reasonable target in light of our regional peers’ spending.

The targets for achieving higher rankings in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness and World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business reports are self-explanatory. You can see by reading their most recent editions the countries in whose proximity we would be landing if we achieved the targets.

The consumer welfare and agricultural productivity targets are yet undefined and merit further discussion.

Security, Justice and Peace

The target for achieving political stability was arrived at similar to the other good governance targets already discussed above. The defense modernization target assumes that the government has a revised plan for this and will be working towards achieving 100% of it by the end of its term. Finally, the press freedom strategy and target, I had to personally add given the silence of the PDP on it. I based this on PNoy’s policy pronouncements at an AFP conference call. I further believe the Human Rights Commission should seek to publish official statistics in the area so that we can aim to bring that figure down.

Climate Change, Adaptation and Mitigation

The targets for reducing environmental damage and casualties are yet undefined but flow directly from the strategies outlined in the PDP. The rest of the targets contained here are from official published statements by the government, including the renewable energy target.

Why the Need for a Scorecard?

It has been nearly three months since the cabinet reorganization was announced, and yet it seems no further developments were made towards fleshing out the social contract in terms of major strategies and targets, which the EO that created it envisioned.

That is the reason why we have taken this bold step towards developing this strategic development road map. Of course, nothing would please us more than to see the government announce something similar. When it does, we will be sure to revise the document to reflect it.

The Propinoy Project began as an attempt to hold the government to account for its electoral promises. Now that the government has officially laid down its official policies and plan for its term, it is but fitting that we assess its future performance against its own targets with objective baselines and independent and reliable sources.

This matrix as detailed as it is cannot capture the complexities at the implementation or operational level. We leave that to the community service organizations who are partnered with various agencies to monitor. At least at the strategic level we can look at this scorecard to assess whether the government is doing the right things (and doing them right!) at the operational level to achieve its strategic goals.

Securing our future through Agriculture

Image courtesy of COCAFM

The average age of Filipino farmers, according to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, is 57. Meanwhile, the average age of the Department of Agriculture‘s (DA) employees is mid 50’s.  Aren’t  the figures alarming?

To solve this hounding problem in the Philippine agricultural sector, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala announced during the third Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation and Food Security on Wednesday, July 13, that the Aquino government is providing scholarship grants to Filipinos especially the children of farmers to encourage them to take-up courses in agriculture.

“Ang malaking kikitain ang nag-aakit sa mga magsasaka para payagan ang anak niya na kumuha ng agricultural classes. Meron po tayong scholarship funds,” said Alcala.

In addition, the DA Secretary affirms that government programs in agriculture are now in place to help farmers and empower them with proper farming practices and the provision of funding support to increase their productivity in their respective communities.

“Kung iyon pong magulang (farmers) nabigyan natin ng pagkakataon na kumita

Image courtesy of COCAFM

na hindi naman po sila nag-aral ng kumpleto nung una pero dahil sa tamang tulong ngayon na technical, may access sa funds, with that marketing help (from the government), kumikita na po sila ng mas mahigit sa isang ordinaryong empleyadong sumusweldo sa banko,” Alcala stressed.

With the continuous rise in unemployment rate in the country, Sec. Procy said that it is more wise and practical to send children in agricultural schools which are more affordable than allowing them to take-up expensive courses that won’t land them a job.

Sec. Proceso Alcala said that the Department of Agriculture is working hard to achieve and implement effectively government programs to meet President Aquino’s order to advocate and support the productivity of farmers in the countryside or rural areas where help is most needed.

On the other hand, the DA secretary also emphasized the need of Filipino farmers to undergo training in pest management, organic farming and other services to sustainable management of crops, livestocks and grains.

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, who has been closely working with Sec. Alcala, said in one of his press releases that there are lots of opportunities in farming and what’s needed is actually a synergy of the whole chain–from the producers to the traders.

Image courtesy of COCAFM

The Senator also wishes to change how farmers are generally perceived and turn them as “farmpreneurs.” (coined from the word farmer and entrepreneur)

“We will build their capacity to earn more by providing them the means to sell their products directly to market via our fellow AF2025 convenors. We also have in AF2025 the built-in network to ensure the sustainability of the project,” said the Senator.

Sen. Pangilinan along with the Department of Agriculture and the private sector convened the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), gathering for the first time representatives of farmers, traders, suppliers and media to craft a long-term plan in addressing the country’s various agriculture and fisheries issues.

“This is an out-of-the box way of approaching decades-old problem of unemployment, poverty, and food self-sufficiency. And this is exactly the proverbial shot in the arm needed to boost further what the DA under the Aquino administration has accomplished. It is about time our agriculture and fisheries sector get the recognition and status that they deserve,” conveyed Pangilinan.

The Austerity of Hope

Has PNoy’s righteous path unintentionally led to more misery?

In 1973, a book co-authored by public policy guru Aaron Wildavsky was published. It had a very verbose title that read: Implementation: How Great Expectations in Washington are Dashed in Oakland; Or Why It’s Amazing that Federal Programs Work At All; This Being a Saga of the Economic Development Administration by Two Sympathetic Observers Who Seek to Build Morals on a Foundation of Ruined Hopes.

The book examined the EDA, an agency that still exists today and is located within the US Department of Commerce to show how policies conceived with the best of intentions at the top, get corrupted and bungled on the way to implementation. It is a cautionary tale on the limits of idealism and noble intentions, a vivid exposition of that oft repeated phrase that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

There can be no more apt way to depict the manner the PNoy presidency has conducted itself during its first year in office. The Filipino equivalent, which goes, maraming namamatay sa maling akala (or many perish because of false assumptions), also rings true. The president to be sure entered the Palace with nothing but the best of intentions propelled by the highest hopes of the people with a vision for

a re-awakened sense of right and wrong, through the living examples of our highest leaders…a collective belief that doing the right thing does not only make sense morally, but translates into economic value as well (from the Liberal Party’s Social Contract).

The movement that had pushed him to enter the derby wanted a person whose reputation would contrast with the existing field. The election was to be framed as a contest between Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, anchored on the moral superiority of their cause.

When he announced his candidacy, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino used the words of an admirer to capture the moment, in that “we can finally dare to have hope once more.” He was declared the Philippine equivalent of Barrack Obama, whose book The Audacity of Hope inspired the 2008 presidential campaign slogan, Change We Can Believe In.

At his inaugural, the Benign One pledged that

(t)hrough good governance in the coming years, we will lessen our problems. The destiny of the Filipino will return to its rightful place, and as each year passes, the Filipino’s problems will continue to lessen with the assurance of progress in their lives.

During his first formal address to Congress, the president stated that the nation faced a fork in the road. On the one hand was the quick and easy path that led to destruction, while on the other was the long and arduous one that led to deliverance. He pledged to take the nation straight down the Righteous Path or Daang Matuwid.

In his first budget statement, he fulfilled a campaign pledge to institute a zero-based budgeting approach to weed out anomalous projects and programs. Only those considered necessary and above board would receive funding. On balance it was a frugal budget, less than 2% above the previous year’s before accounting for inflation, which meant that he had effectively shrank the government. This was meant to give himself a fighting chance to fulfill his “no new taxes” pledge to businessmen at the big end of town.

All of this was in keeping with the vision for a country with a new set of morals that would translate into economic value.

At the halfway mark of his first year in December last year, a number of positive trends seemed to indicate a very auspicious start to the president’s term. The growth momentum experienced in the first half of the year seemed to have carried through in the latter half.

Fast forward two quarters to today and all of the indicators seem to be pointing downwards. Not only has investor confidence been a bit more sanguine and consumer confidence turned sour, but poverty and hunger seem to be on the rise along with unemployment. Some of these headwinds are caused by external events like the uprisings in the Middle East and natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan, but could they also be self-inflicted handicaps?

What’s going on?

Well it seems that in their bid to control government waste and corruption, the administration has unintentionally created a situation where much of its programmed spending was held back (up to 20% in the first quarter alone). The massive withholding of spending amounting to close to 70 billion pesos in the first four months of the year (which when we factor in negative multiplier effects is really around 100-150 billion pesos or 1-1.5% of GDP) appears to have had an adverse impact as contractors stopped hiring and in fact layed off more workers.

This occurs at a time of rising cost of living presssures and as a fresh batch of new graduates are about to join the labor market. Despite spending more on conditional cash grants to alleviate the plight of the poor, the actions of the palace seems to have made life much worse for many of them. The government in effect seems to be giving with one hand while taking away with the other.

It seems that in seeking to treat the symptoms of moral degradation and heal the body politic, PNoy forgot the first maxim of the Hyppocratic Oath, which is to do no harm. Indeed as it nears the end of its first year in office, the government of the Benign One appears to have very little to show for its posturing on institution building and bringing about greater economic benefits of a cleaner, moral government: perhaps a case of great expectations dashed once more.

Consumer info not commandos needed

It was reported a while back that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) would go “commando” on institutions producing sub-standard outcomes for their students. The newly appointed CHED Chairwoman Patricia Licuanan was quoted as saying

(w)hen I [was] appointed to the CHEd, he (referring to President Aquino) said, ‘Dr. Licuanan, close down all these substandard nursing schools,’ …So, how clear can you get, right?

Of particular concern to the chairperson are institutions “that were very, very strong with the previous administration.” As graduation season approaches, many programs that are poorly performing (i.e. have failed to bring at least 30% of their graduating class above the line in board exams) particularly in the nursing field, will be targeted by a “crack team” to be formed by the Commission.

While the operators of such schools are liable for their poor performing students, the Commission by implication is also at fault for issuing permits to them to begin with. Either their criteria for approving these programs must be re-examined or somewhere in the organization, some form of graft and corruption exists and needs to be dealt with.

Which makes the fulfillment of this ‘mandate’ quite doubtful. Promises to close down opportunistic higher education providers have been made in the past. Cases tend to get tied up with the courts as temporary restraining orders (TROs) are issued that maintain the status quo. Operators find their way of ingratiating themselves with the authorities and the powers that be in the mean time. In the end it is a losing battle as agencies suffer more losses than wins.

Rather than waging a costly war in the courts with school operators, why not allow public access to information to bring about informed choice?

As an alternative, it would be more cost-effective and constructive for the CHED to publish information regarding the performance of schools in print and on the internet. Such information is already available, but not readily accessible. Empowering the public with information to make an informed choice would enforce a kind of market discipline.

While they are at it, the CHED should also take the lead role in publishing career information regarding future labor demand for various professions. For this it might have to team up with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The information should cover occupational and industry data and the qualifications both in higher education and vocational training that will be required to meet the prospective demand. Certain vocations or occupations that are expected to be of high demand among employers should be promoted, while those of low demand should be discouraged. To do this quantitative economic modeling of labor markets as well as consultations with industry and employer groups must first take place.

The CHED could easily get side-tracked with the issue of closing down schools when it should be more focused on the larger picture of matching skills with demand. Rather than waging a costly war in the courts with school operators, why not allow public access to information to bring about informed choice? The tools and information are already at their finger tips.

Rather than taking a ‘shot-gun’ approach to employment, training and higher education policy, the relevant agencies need to work together to work out a long-term, comprehensive solution to our labor market requirements.

Forum cites development tasks

Forum cites development tasks
BusinessWorld Online

ASIA is now increasingly the focus of growth in the world, but individual economies like the Philippines and similarly less developed markets have to identify sectors that need support in order to boost their competitiveness, experts said at a forum yesterday in the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City.

In her presentation, Suzanne Rosselet, deputy director of the International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Center, noted that Asia’s population will hit 5.26 billion by 2050, compared to Africa’s 1.77 billion, the European Union’s 628 million and the United States’ 447 million.

“This pretty much sums up where the long-term growth will be. [It] will be in Asia,” she said.

In the Philippines, she said, the government needs to focus on supporting small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and services, which have been an engine of growth.

She added that “there has to be job creation for young people moving into the workforce.”

David Jay Green, a fellow of the Asian Development Bank-Asian Institute of Management Knowledge Hub for Trade and Investment, noted that within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are pockets of less developed clusters like that of the otherwise resource-rich sub-region grouped into the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

He noted this group, which was formally established in 1984, was formed precisely to enable the less developed component areas to pool resources and efforts to help them catch up with more developed urban areas in the same countries. The Philippine components of BIMP-EAGA are Palawan and Mindanao.

Experts have prescribed increasing trade and other economic ties within Asia, as demand recovery in the US and Europe remains sluggish.

But Mr. Green stressed the need to further streamline trade processes within BIMP-EAGA if it is to live up to expectations as a driver of growth in Southeast Asia.

This, in turn, requires more efficient government operations, better infrastructure and “connectivity policies” — all of which will facilitate the transport of goods and trade in services.

“It’s a whole series of things that has to be done to encourage the business environment, trading environment and the ability of people to invest in their own country,” Mr. Green said.

Sought for comment, Augusto B. Santos, deputy director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said the government has been finding ways to provide cheap loans to SMEs, help localities focus on a few products and services they can excel in, and is poised to embark on an infrastructure buildup under public-private partnerships in order to lay the groundwork for sustained, faster growth. — JJAC

More jobs seen in 4th quarter

More jobs seen in 4th quarter
By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Here’s good news for jobseekers.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday assured that employment opportunities are brighter for jobseekers with the coming holiday season.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said various industries are expected to hire more workers in the last three months of the year as commercial establishments nationwide prepare for Christmas.

Even poor but deserving students who are on Christmas vacation can work temporarily in various business firms and government offices nationwide as provided under the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES).

Employers will pay 60 percent of the students’ minimum wage while the government would shoulder the remaining 40 percent. The working students are also entitled to other benefits and privileges under the Labor Code.

Republic Act 9547 or the SPES Amendatory Law was passed last year to encourage employers engaged in small and medium enterprises to hire poor but deserving students so they will have the opportunity to earn more during vacation.

The labor chief said the government is also working to strengthen the agriculture sector as part of efforts to generate more local employment for Filipinos.

According to Baldoz, the government’s job promotion program is now starting to yield positive results as the country posted a lower unemployment rate in July.

Baldoz said they expect the unemployment rate to drop further in the coming months.

She added that the DOLE is closely coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the implementation of various construction projects that could also generate employment for Filipinos next year.

Asean lists down causes of failure to meet MDGs

Asean lists down causes of failure to meet MDGs
Written by Estrella Torres
Business Mirror

LINGERING conflicts, fragile political situations and armed violence in Southeast Asia hamper the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Dr. Surin Pits wan, Asean secretary-general raised the need to address these concerns of members, particularly developing countries like the Philippines, at the sidelines of the United Nations Review Conference of the MDGs in New York City.

Surin met with Timor Leste President Jose Ramos Horta; officials of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and of the World Bank and the United Kingdom, to identify programs to raise the importance of peace-building and state-building in achieving the MDGs, according to a briefing statement issued by the Asean.

Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines are having difficulty complying with the MDG commitments due to the lingering conflict and fragile political conditions in those countries.

In March 2009, Asean members agreed to align to the attainment of MDGs the road map to establish a single market by 2015.

The signatories to the MDG compact signed in year 2000 also set year 2015 as the end-year for compliance with the eight goals.

The declaration “reflects Asean’s serious commitment to reducing poverty and inequality and improve the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Asean,” Surin said

The MDGs are time-bound goals that aim to halve global poverty incidence by 2015 by eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal access to primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Asean signed an assistance program with the European Union to develop statistical reports using the MDG indicators to support regional programs aligned to achieving the MDGs.

Infrastructure woes hinder MDGs

Infrastructure woes hinder MDGs
Written by Cai U. Ordinario
Business Mirror

DESPITE the country’s efforts to increase social spending through programs like the conditional cash-transfer (CCT) program to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) believes that addressing infrastructure constraints will still hold the key in achieving the goals by 2015.

In a statement, ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said developing countries like the Philippines must address basic infrastructure constraints to achieve the MDGs in five years.

Kuroda said many areas in developing countries still do not have electricity, all-weather roads and other basic infrastructure. These limit access to health care and discourage children from completing their education.

He said the region is lagging in the targets for basic sanitation, infant mortality, maternal health, hunger and environmental improvements, and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Less developed countries, or those suffering from conflicts or disaster, will need more regional help to make progress, and the Asia and Pacific region must step up cross-border cooperation in trade, investment, knowledge and technology, to help bridge gaps in resources and capacities,” the ADB added.

Addressing these concerns is National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director General
Dr. Cayetano Paderanga, who delivered the Philippines’ statement during the High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in New York City.

Paderanga, who is also the Socioeconomic Planning secretary, said while the Philippines made considerable strides in meeting some of the MDGs, like cutting child mortality, and malaria and tuberculosis incidence; increasing access to sanitation and safe and potable water; and providing equal education for girls, there is still a lot to be done.

The Neda chief said the measures that will be implemented by the national government to help achieve the MDGs will be included in the Medium-Term Development Plan for 2010-2016.

He said the MTDP will make sure this growth is inclusive and can help protect the vulnerable by ensuring access of every Filipino to quality health, education and employment opportunities.

These, Paderanga said, will be done through an appropriate mix of physical and social infrastructures, and by strengthening social safety nets, like CCTs and universal health care.

“Despite the gains attained in the last decade, we need to push ourselves more to meet the MDGs, particularly where we lag behind. Moreover, the Philippine scenario is characterized by wide disparities. Our latest progress report also shows that climate change poses a threat to the achievement of our targets. The population above the poverty threshold is declining as a result of low capacities to cope with the effects of shocks leading to more ‘transient poor,’” Paderanga said in a statement.

He urged development partners to also keep their promise of sharing a portion of their gross national income (GNI) to developing countries for MDG achievement. The United Nations official development assistance target is set at 0.7 percent of GNI.

“Excellencies, as we enter the last stretch, the Philippine government is exerting all means to deliver on its promise to realize its MDGs, not just as an international commitment but because our people demand it. Let us remember that each and every one of our citizens deserves a life of quality, meaning and dignity,” Paderanga said.

For its part, the Manila-based ADB said it is targeting increased support for basic infrastructure, such as roads, power and sanitation, which are crucial for meeting MDGs.

It also intends to scale up assistance for education, and for environmental improvements, including the use of clean energy, where ADB investments have grown to more than $1 billion a year, and which are targeted to double to $2 billion by 2013.

Kuroda added that countries in the Asia and the Pacific region, which is home to three-fifths of humanity and two-thirds of the world’s poor, represent the world’s best hope for achieving the MDGs by 2015.

“With more than 500 million people having overcome poverty since 1990, the target for reducing extreme income poverty is in sight. The region is also likely to achieve near universal primary school enrollment by 2015, attain gender parity in education, meet the target on access to safe drinking water, and halt the spread of deadly diseases such as TB and HIV,” Kuroda said.

The country’s fourth progress report on the MDGs showed it had a low probability of achieving indicators—such as increase elementary education net enrollment rate, elementary education cohort survival rate, elementary education completion rate, reduce by three quarters maternal mortality, universal access to reproductive health, halt HIV prevalence among 15 year olds, and provide comprehensive correct knowledge about HIV/AIDS to 15 to 24 year olds.

The report also showed the country had a medium probability of achieving the indicators on halving the proportion of population below the poverty threshold or P15,057 per year per person, halving the prevalence of underweight children under five years old, halving the proportion of households with per capita intake below 100 percent dietary energy requirement, universal access for the proportion of the population with advanced HIV infection to antiretroviral drugs, and halve the proportion of the population with access to safe water.

The indicators also showed the Philippines had a high probability of achieving of halving the proportion of population below the food threshold or P10,025 per year per person, all the indicators of Goal 3 which pertained to gender equality and women empowerment, indicators under Goal 4 of reducing child mortality, the malaria morbidity rate, the malaria mortality rate, the tuberculosis case-detection rate, tuberculosis-cure rate, and the proportion of the population with access to sanitary toilet facilities.

The MDGs are a set of eight goals, 22 quantitative targets and more than 60 specific indicators meant to serve as a focus for international and national development policy.

The first seven goals are concerned with outcomes, identifying the progress toward certain standards of human welfare and development that should be achieved globally and nationally by 2015. The eighth goal is concerned with “global partnership for development” to support the realization of all the goals.

Why many Filipinos are poor: WB’s latest report

Why many Filipinos are poor: WB’s latest report (1)

By Rigoberto D. Tiglao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE WORLD Bank’s most recent analysis of the Philippine economy released last month was quite underreported, probably since, as is typical of its reports, you have to wrestle through its technocratic language.

The title itself of the study doesn’t make for exciting reading: “The Philippines: Fostering More Inclusive Growth.” It would have been covered better in the press perhaps if it was titled based on its actual topic: “Why so many Filipinos are poor, and will be poor—and their numbers will certainly grow—if little is done by government.” As is typical of World Bank reports, it is a comprehensive analysis with a long list of “to-dos” for government (e.g., more efficient tax collection, more infrastructure), which, I would say, could be a good blueprint for President Aquino’s reform programs. We focus though on two of its major conclusions on why so many Filipinos remain poor.
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