OCTOBER 7, 2013
(PHILSTAR) By Ted P. Torres - Despite the four straight quarters of at least seven percent growth, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the Philippines should not rest on its laurels as more tasks need to be accomplished.

The country’s robust economic growth path was stamped by an investment upgrade by international credit rating agency Moody’s. Earlier, various domestic and international financial institutions upgraded their economic forecasts for the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

But ADB vice president Stephen P. Groff pointed out that not everything has changed for the better.

“Surging economic growth has failed to reach all corners of society. (The Philippines) still has to tackle inequality and make Philippine growth more inclusive,” Groff said in a social business summit in Bulacan.

In their preliminary assessment in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets, the Philippines’ record has been mixed, he said.

The ADB official said the Philippines is making good MDG progress as measured by indicators connected with malaria prevalence, under-five and infant mortality, and access to sanitary toilet facilities.

However, the country would likely miss indicators for maternal mortality, primary school completion, tuberculosis death rate, and immunization of one-year-olds against measles.

Nearly one-third of children under age five suffer from moderate to severe stunting due to malnutrition, and the incidence of poverty during the first half of last year showed no statistical improvement since 2006.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported that the poverty incidence reached 27.9 percent as of the first semester of 2012. And at the start of 2013, the unemployment rate remained at 7.1 percent and an underemployment at 20.9 percent.

Groff said a large share of the labor force toils in the informal sector, enduring long work hours without basic social protection, jobs benefits and a reliable income.

“Clearly there is much to be done – and done more urgently,” the ADB official said.

It should also be noted that the country’s average annual improvement on the Human Development Index, 2000-2012, was lower than other middle-income countries in Southeast Asia.

Groff acknowledged efforts by the national government to reduce poverty. “But it was not enough to break down barriers that hold back a sustainable progression out of poverty.”

The key is the active participation of the private sector in creating employment opportunities and delivering basic services through social enterprises.

There are roughly 30,000 social enterprises in the Philippines, including a broad range of cooperatives, non-government organizations (NGOs) pursuing profit-making initiatives, microfinance providers, and fair trade groups.

Many have been around long before use of the term “social enterprise” became widespread. Most are small with a localized focus, lacking the capacity, resources, or desire to scale up operations to reach much larger numbers of beneficiaries.

A social enterprise is a business that trades for a social and/or environmental purpose. It has a social mission, and it has clear rules about what it does with its profits, reinvesting these to further the ‘social mission.’


US says shutdown hurting business and data gathering Agence France-Presse 2:56 pm | Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker AFP File Photo

NUSA DUA – The impacts of the US government shutdown are cascading into the business sector and into vital collection of economic data, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker warned Sunday.

The first shutdown in 17 years has directly affected hundreds of thousands of government employees, but Pritzker said companies were also starting to hurt.

“The shutdown is not good for business. It’s not good for the economy,” Pritzker told reporters at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on the Indonesian island of Bali, which President Barack Obama has been forced to skip.

“And we need to move in with the business of doing business in the United States. So, I am hopeful this gets resolved soon. It’s obviously having an impact.”

Pritzker said one big problem was businesses could no longer access vital data about the economy that is normally posted on the commerce department’s website.

But the website has been taken offline because staff who run it are not working.

“We’re a huge source of data for American business and that is a problem… It’s affecting businesses and it’s affecting their ability to get data,” she said.

Pritzker recounted the story of her son, an analyst in New York, who could not access retail sales data that is normally accessible online.

“He said: ‘I need retail sales numbers and your website is not functioning right now,’” Pritzker said.

Nevertheless, Pritzker said she was an optimist and believed a solution to the shutdown would be achieved soon.

The US government closed all but its essential operations on Tuesday when Republican lawmakers refused to approve money for government operations without first delaying or defunding the new health care law, commonly known as Obamacare.

Obama is refusing to negotiate with Republicans over the budget issues until they pass a temporary bill to reopen the government, and has abandoned a planned tour of Asia taking in the APEC summit while the crisis plays out.

He said they must also agree to raise the $16.7 trillion US statutory borrowing limit — without which Washington could default on its debts for the first time ever starting on October 17.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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