‘PH needs 25-year economic plan’

    Long-term plan. A roadmap that takes into account the infrastructure needs of the country among other things will ensure sustained growth. (Photo by RHOY COBILLA)

    The Philippines needs a 25-year economic plan, a long-term roadmap in the light of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

    Speaking at the Euro-PH Business Summit on Friday, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said while the country has the so-called Ambisyon Natin 2040 which articulates the Filipinos’ aspiration for a better life, “it still lacks a roadmap towards the attainment of per capita income targets.

    “As far as I know, we have not had a proper long-term plan economic plan,” said Quimbo.

    The economic plan, she said, will include all infrastructure needs especially digital infrastructure and incentives for environment-friendly production methods to ensure sustainability.

    “COVID-19 reminds us that … the crafting and institutionalization of a 25-year economic plan is an important step to take,” said Quimbo.

    She added the combined spending for Bayanihan 1 and 2 for COVID totalling P467 billion is quite small relative to the estimated economic loss of P2.4 trillion that will be caused by the pandemic.

    Quimbo said beyond the economic stimulus, the Philippines needs to put in place social protection reforms particularly on labor and health insurance.

    Quimbo has filed a bill seeking the creation of the national unemployment insurance program.

    Quimbo also called for the regularization of the informal sector, noting 77 percent of Filipinos are unbanked and have no access to formal credit programs.

    “While there are about one million registered small businesses, an estimated five to 6 million are unregistered… the small and informal businesses are those which largely bear the hardships caused by the pandemic,” she added.

    Quimbo urged for a review of the Labor Code by identifying provisions which need to be amended so that “firms are incentivized to hire more workers, rather than invest in labor saving machinery and hire them under regular and fair employment arrangements.

    For Quimbo, correcting the inflexibilities in labor law can impact job creation and regularization.

    Quimbo also urged for urgent reforms at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. which she said is “badly mismanaged and fraud-laden.” (I. Isip)