US urges fair distribution of Philippines’ new-found wealthBy Edwin Espejo Sep 27, 2013 9:51AM UTC
MAKATI – Despite having Asia’s second highest growth in gross domestic product (GDP) last year, the Philippines still has a lot of catching up to make the growth felt and enjoyed by the rest of the country’s population.
“We all know that the Philippines has now outpaced all the countries in the region in terms of economic growth,” said Gloria Steele, mission director of the United States Agency for International Development in the Philippines.
The Philippine economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2012 and officials say they are confident the Philippines will breach the 7 percent GDP growth this year. The country is now on track to become Asia’s fastest growing economy.
Steele, however, said the bigger challenge is how the 42 percent of Filipinos who earn just US$2 a day can benefit from the economic growth.
The USAID top official in the Philippines said the country needs to create more employment opportunities and make inclusive growth happen.
The US has stepped up grants and aid in the Philippines through the Partnership for Growth (PFG) project.
Its centerpiece program in the country is the US$434 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) that includes the rehabilitation of the 222-kilometer road in Samar and the multi-faceted Kalahi-CIDDS program that is “targeting communities where poverty exceeds the national average through small-scale and community driven development projects.”
Also a major component of MCC is the Revenue Administration Reform Project (RARP). The RARP aims “to narrow the gap between potential revenue collections” by instituting reforms in the country’s internal revenues collection.
US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr said, “Secretary (Hillary) Clinton took a chance on the Philippines when she created the Millennium Challenge Corporation.”
In November 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario signed a P40 billion assistance package through PFG.
Thomas said he has faith in the Philippines and hopes to see the country achieve its inclusive growth target.
Thomas graced the regular Kapihan sa Embahada 2013 at the Raffles and Fermont Hotel in Makati last Tuesday, September 24.
The PFG project also includes “fostering a more open and competitive business environment, strengthening rule of law and anti-corruption measures and improving fiscal performance.”
Steele said the US wants to see the Philippines open up to foreign investment.
“(We are looking at) what industries can we work with in the local levels to create jobs,” she said.
But she also said the government must institute measures that will “reduce the cost of doing business in the Philippines.”
She also added that the Philippine government has “to address to issues of lack of transparency and lack of integrity both in the government and private sector.”