Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The Philippine economy exceeded targets and forecasts by growing at its fastest pace in nearly three years in the first quarter of this year. Our impressive 7.8 percent gross domestic product growth surprised economists and outpaced our bigger neighbors in Asia, including China.
National Economic Development Authority director general and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that our country grew fastest in Southeast Asia, overtaking China’s 7.7 percent and Indonesia’s 6 percent growth. While these numbers are impressive, this kind of growth can have a greater impact on the lives of Filipinos only if it can be sustained over a long period of time, when we can snag more physical investments that generate more jobs to reinforce the financial investments that have been flowing in due to business confidence and good fundamentals.
While the impressive growth numbers are good in their own right, Secretary Balisacan admits that the primary issue is all about making GDP growth inclusive and where that goal is concerned, we still have a long way to go. Impatient naysayers who pooh-pooh the growth numbers by saying that the poor are still poor in this country need to be reminded that the positive effects of these economic gains do not happen overnight.
The National Statistics Coordination Board says that poverty incidence in the country has practically remained unchanged in the first half of 2012. A recent Social Weather Stations survey also revealed that the number of unemployed Filipinos rose by 1 million in the first quarter of the year. These conflicting figures in terms of GDP growth, poverty and joblessness do not mean that the efforts of the government are not making a difference. It simply means that the problem is deeper and more complicated and those kinds of problem need the focused attention and lots of patience before more inclusive growth is felt by the majority of the population who need it most.
The Philippine economy is growing, that much has been established. That growth may not yet be inclusive enough but we cannot just leave it to the government to sustain that growth so that more and more Filipinos can improve and feel the positive effects of a growing economy. This is an effort that needs less whining and more cooperation.*