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PIA Press Release

NEDA gives briefing on opportunities for RP economy

Davao City (29 March) -- Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim of the National Economic and Development Authority XI presented the performance and opportunities for the national economy during the Philippine Economic Briefing held on March 24, 2010 at the Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City.

The briefing is a forum where the country's economic managers provide information to local business community and other stakeholders on the country's economic performance for the past years, highlights of benefits of government's economic reforms, and economic outlook and prospects.

Emphasizing the country's economic performance, Director Lim said that from 2001 to 2009, the Philippine economy grew by an average 4.4 percent, driven primarily by the growth in the services sector. She attributed the surge in services to the deregulation of air transport and communications, massive infrastructure programs, reforms in the financial sector and the strong inflow of overseas Filipino remittances.

On the region's economic performance, she said that Davao Region's economy grew at an annual average of 5.2 percent from 2002 to 2008, propelled mainly by the growth in the industry sector. Sustained construction and manufacturing activities in the region spurred the growth of the sector.

Director Lim also presented the critical policy reforms implemented by the government that paved the way for macroeconomic stability and higher growth during the period, which included the fiscal consolidation program, inflation targeting, financial reforms and prudent regulation, sector-specific reforms, and infrastructure development.

She informed the multisectoral audience that the Philippines was one of the few countries in the world that enjoyed consistent positive GDP quarterly growth rates in 2009 along with China, Vietnam and Singapore. This positive growth was attributed to the government's timely implementation of accommodative monetary policy and fiscal stimulus packages, which included the infrastructure spending strategies of frontloading, and realigning from slow moving to fast moving projects, implementation of quick-disbursing projects, implementation of lower corporate tax rates and personal income tax exemptions, implementation of various strategic social programs under the Economic Resiliency Plan (ERP) and the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) which provided almost 500 thousand jobs or livelihood assistance nationwide.

In addition to the stimulus packages, Director Lim presented the government economic pillars which will provide the foundation for future growth and development of the country. These include establishing a clear policy framework for economic stability, accelerating public investments in infrastructures and addressing food and energy security and environmental sustainability.

Towards the end, Director Lim discussed the challenges and risks to macroeconomic stability. She cautioned the audience that the world economic recovery still remains fragile, and this has bearing on the government's ability to pursue fiscal targets. In addition, crude oil prices have been rising in the world market which, in turn, may put some pressure on consumer prices, abetted by utility rate hikes. The changing climatic conditions such as the El Niņo; and the recent spending spree to stimulate growth have caused the country to build up fiscal deficits and accumulate public debt; and a stronger recovery of our Asian neighbors would also have a negative impact on the Philippines.

Finally, Director Lim discussed the strategies and commitments of the government to secure economic stability. These include implementation of fiscal consolidation and debt sustainability reforms and programs, implementation of macroeconomic policies to encourage private investments and entrepreneurship, provision of adequate and efficient infrastructure in electricity, transport and financing, minimizing corruption and political discord, and improving governance and strengthening institutions through capacity building.

In the case of Region XI, Director Lim mentioned some of RDC XI's initiatives towards securing economic stability. One of these is the formulation of a Regional Human Resource Development Action Plan that would improve capacities of its human resources for its priority cluster industries.

Present during the forum were Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, National and Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director General Margarita R. Songco, Energy Undersecretary Mary Rose Magsaysay-Crisostomo, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Preceles Mnzo, Trade and Industry Regional Director Marizon Loreto, Budget Director Gisela Lopez, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Director Jose Ernesto Gonzales. They provided key insights in economic reforms over the last nine years in each of their sectors and further discussed the key pillars of strength that are ensuring continued economic growth and positioning the Philippines to capture opportunities that are arising from the global rebound.

In response to the questions on the possible development challenges that the new administration will face, DDG Songco, in particular, said that the achievement of growth targets would be likely one of the most critical challenges. She also mentioned that ensuring the trickle down effects of development to the poor is another important responsibility of the next administration. She recommended the adoption of various social protection programs under the Economic Resiliency Program (ERP), particularly the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program wherein cash transfers are provided to marginalized sectors with corresponding commitments for sustainability. (PIA) [top]

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