The Philippines – Improving institutions, offering a vital and sustainable labor force to the region
Saddled with internal problems and external shocks the past three decades (1980 to 2010), the Philippines is back on its feet and getting ready to be fully integrated into Asia’s regional economy with better institutional and governance quality, focused public sector investments in infrastructure and human capital development, and armed with sustainable and dynamic labor force. It has achieved positive changes – significant progress – in governance and economic performance in recent years. It appears to be on track in addressing the critical development constraints to growth and poverty reduction through its inclusive growth agenda.
Noted for its English-speaking, young and mobile human capital, the Philippines has been a services- and consumption-driven economy with significant contributions from remittances of overseas Filipino workers and the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM). Its economy-wide productivity growth lagged and foreign investments stagnated for about three decades – between 1980 and 2009.
Human capital is seen as among the strongest assets of the Philippines. Bringing in foreign –and domestic – capital investments are necessary in transforming human capital into productive labor, thereby creating an enduring economic growth structure and poverty reduction. Private investments are critical in addressing key challenges and opportunities on i) persistent problem of unemployment and underemployment, ii) reviving the manufacturing sub-sector, and iii) improving technological innovation and production capability.
Sustaining and scaling-up institutional reforms are necessary in getting out of the “middle income trap” and ultimately achieving prosperity. This is not going to be easy; and, yes, leadership and good governance are key factors towards this end.