Shared Prosperity

Rural Infrastructure

Good transportation infrastructure is a precursor to investments in the countryside. Supplies and equipment such as fertilizer and machinery need to reach agricultural producers to improve their yields. On the other hand, produce from harvests need to be transported efficiently from farmers to major consumption centers, specifically large cities.1 2 3

“Itinutulak natin ang modernisasyon ng PNR 4 tungo sa Kabikulan. Gayundin sa ibang rehiyon – mag-invest sa pampublikong transportasyon para makapasok ang investment, dumami ang trabaho at lumago ang mga komunidad.”

Inclusive Growth

Growth also needs to be inclusive. The official poverty rate has stubbornly remained high at 25%. The agricultural sector, despite providing 31% of all jobs, only contributes 10% of GDP. Government can serve as a catalyst for increasing the productivity and efficiency of the agricultural sector (see Zero Hunger), which contributes greatly to the economy of the countryside.5 6

“Ito ang pinakamahalagang isyu na hinaharap natin ngayon – ibaba ang kaunlarang nararanasan ng bansa sa pinakamalalayong komunidad at pinakamahihirap na pamilya. Sa Naga nababa naming ang poverty incidence mula 25% noong 1990s hanggang 19% noong 2003.”

Inclusive growth also entails:

  • Keeping food prices low (PRESYO) through investments in Agriculture
  • Creating jobs (TRABAHO) through sound economic policy
  • Increasing incomes and productivity (KITA) by creating better economic conditions, promote primary, secondary, and tertiary education for children and teens; and skills training for working-age adults

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Microenterprise Support

Most of the businesses in the Philippines are classified as Small or Medium Enterprises, which employ roughly two-thirds of the entire workforce of the country. The Go-Negosyo law put up Go-Negosyo Centers, which provide assistance to MSMEs, but this is just the first step in energizing the SME segment of the economy. One of the key bottlenecks is access to affordable financing, and this should be one of the key areas of focus. 7

“Pagsuporta sa MSMEs ang isang paraan para mapalaganap ang asensong dala ng Daang Matuwid. Malaking bahagi nito ang pagpapadali ng kanilang access sa pautang.”

Links between Rural Development and Urban Renewal

By creating more opportunities in the countryside through increased investments in infrastructure and decent jobs, breadwinners need not part from their families to look for better livelihood in the cities. In particular, ensuring the effective implementation of the New Industrial Policy and its industry roadmaps, which aim to re-energize the manufacturing sector, will create the jobs the countryside requires.

Metro Manila and other urban centers will grow even more congested if attention and resources continue to be focused on these areas. Developing the countryside is the long-term solution to some of the problems in our cities, including bad traffic, I join the growing call in the development sector to focus on second-tier cities that can be assisted in their development plans by strengthening their mutually beneficial links with rural Philippines.

  1. In the 2014-2015 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines ranked 80 out of 144 countries in terms of quality of railroad infrastructure.
  2. Despite the renewal of the PNR charter (RA 10638) in 2013, as of February 2015, only 28 out of 165 stations in the Philippine National Railways are functioning and being serviced by trains. President Aquino already approved the release of PhP 2.3 billion for the rehabilitation and repair of various stations and rail tracks etc of the PNR.
  3. According to the ADB, the construction of the PNR North-South Railway Project would cost (including infrastructure, rolling stock, signaling) approximately PhP170.7 billion.The PNR North South Railway Project is developed with the objective to increase connectivity between Metro Manila and currently underserved areas in Southern Luzon.
  4. Leni Robredo authored House Bill 3421to extend Philippine National Railways’ charter, allow private entities to invest in it, and allow it to undertake joint ventures with private partners.
  5. From 2010 to 2015, Philippine economic growth averaged 6.2%, the highest continuous growth trend in 40 years. However, poverty incidence remains at 25.2%.
  6. Share of agriculture sector in employment is 31% but share of GDP is 10%; while 38.3% of farmers and 39.2% of fisher folk are considered poor, compared to the national poverty incidence of 25.2% in 2012.
  7. Currently, the Development Bank of the Philippines has offered P14 billion worth of loans to MSMEs. This was an increase from the P10billion worth of loans they gave out in 2014. In 2016, it targets a 30% increase in the loans given out to further support our MSMEs.