‘Vital reforms’ bring economic milestones to PH, Neda says

STRONG economic management, massive infrastructure buildup, as well as remarkable laws like the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or national ID program, Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), and the Ease of Doing Business Law.

These are the five significant reforms cited by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) that helped the country attain its lowest poverty rate in 2018, and will pave the way for the achievement of its 2040 vision.

“Our promise of lifting six million Filipinos out of poverty was achieved in 2018, four years ahead of schedule. We initially targeted to achieve this by 2022, but due to our country’s commitment to push for the needed reforms, we achieved this four years ahead of schedule,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said in a press release.

The Neda chief said that in the first four years of the administration, the Philippines recorded a strong economic growth performance (averaging 6.6 percent) from 2016 to 2019, the lowest unemployment (5.3 percent), and underemployment (14.8 percent) rates in January 2020. In addition, Chua said that in 2018, the Philippines recorded the lowest poverty rate (16.7 percent) in the country’s history.

Neda said the national ID program was first attempted in 1973 and was finally enacted 45 years later in August 2018.

It provides all Filipinos with a unique proof of identity to facilitate financial inclusion and more efficient provision of key services.

As of September 3, 2021, 41.9 million Filipinos have registered for the first step or the demographic data collection. Of this, 28.6 million have registered for step 2 or the biometrics capture and 5.2 million individuals have applied for a bank account, while 1.5 million Filipinos have already received their identification cards or PhilID.

The national ID may also be used in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and distribution of emergency subsidies.

The RTL was only legislated in 2019 or 32 years later since it was first attempted in 1987. The reform helped lower rice prices due to more open importation and increased farmer productivity due to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

“From a peak of 45 pesos per kilo before RTL, we were able to lower rice prices to as low as 37 pesos per kilo. We see the potential of continuous lowering of rice prices to help every Filipino,” said Chua.

Under the Duterte administration, infrastructure spending tripled and created millions of jobs, contributing to the lowest unemployment and poverty rates before the pandemic.

During the administration, the Neda Investment Coordination Committee approved 79 major infrastructure projects amounting to P3.9 trillion. These projects are expected to generate six million jobs over the construction period and reduce the Filipinos’ travel time, by 41 percent, and transport costs, by P43 billion annually.

Meanwhile, with the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, the Philippines’ global ranking in ease of doing business improved by 29 notches from 2019 to 2020, the largest improvement in recent history.

Chua said that attaining the country’s economic growth targets in 2021 and 2022 remains encouraging and NEDA will continue to pursue economic reforms to attract more investments and create more and better jobs. (JOB with PR)