Before I proceed, let me first present to you the big development challenge we are facing in our country: Growth in the past has not been rapid enough and worse, it has not been inclusive.
Poverty reduction in the country has been slow and lagging. One reason for this is that we have not experienced high growth that has been sustained over a long period. For instance, if we want real per capita incomes to increase two-fold in fifteen years, then we must grow by 6.7% annually, on the average for the next 15 years.
What is the more disturbing fact revealed by this slide is that poverty reduction has not been responsive to growth. During the period 2000 to 2009, the proportion of poor Filipinos seemed to have only plateaued, when this should have gone down given the continuous economic growth at the time. This is why we term this period as our “lost decade.”
In addition, we suffer from having high income inequality, which indicates that economic gains have not been broadly distributed across the different sectors of our population. Opportunities remain unequal, in terms of access to health and education services, market infrastructure and the like. This is the reason why the Aquino administration has committed to ensuring that there will be growth and that is rapid, sustained and inclusive. Achieving inclusive growth is quite a formidable task. Let me share with you some employment statistics:
In July 2012, unemployment rate was 7 percent and it has been at about this level for two years now. Note that the background for these employment statistics was a very commendable economic growth, low and stable inflation, fiscal prudence and therefore, sound macroeconomic fundamentals, and high consumer and business optimism.
But what do the numbers tell us?