Wake Up, Philippines!

RP must do more for poor, says World Bank

Posted in Poverty by Erineus on June 22, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:05:00 06/21/2009

NAGA CITY, Philippines – The Philippines must “work for the poor” as it works to grow the economy, World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman said.

While economic growth in the past years “has been high,” Hofman said the Philippines continued to experience “relatively high income inequality.”

“Growth alone is not enough. It must work for the poor,” Hofman said here on Saturday during the launch of the Naga City Governance Institute.

He said the Philippines had a “history of macro [economic] inconsistencies” like in the inflation and foreign exchange rates.

The Philippines is among 191 countries that aim to meet eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, where eradicating poverty and hunger is highest on the aganda

Hofman cited the “extensive red tape” and the backward transportation system in the country as among the challenges that concerned the World Bank “for years.”

According to the advocacy group Social Watch Philippines, the Bicol region has a poverty incidence of 55.1 percent compared to the national record of 32.9 percent in 2007.

“Our thinking is to help keep the kids of poor families in school and give poor families the right health care, in addition to good macro economics and good investment plan,” Hofman said.

Hofman said the Philippines had “all the things that it takes to succeed in development” because of its English-proficient population.

When asked about his thoughts on the effects of the insurgencies on development, Hoffman said “The insurgency problem, as you may call it, gives foreign investors the perception that it is not safe to invest here.”

Juan Escandor Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon Bureau