Eight months after President Duterte assumed office, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) released over the weekend the government’s economic blueprint, dubbed as the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022. The Neda, which spearheaded the crafting of the blueprint, noted that the PDP is the first medium-term plan anchored on the “AmBisyon Natin 2040”, the long-term development plan drawn up by the previous administration. The Neda said the goal of the current PDP is to lay the necessary groundwork that would enable Filipinos to attain a “matatag, ma-ginhawa at panatag na buhay”.
The Neda said the PDP 2017-2022 adopted some of the good practices of the previous administration. While GDP grew by an “impressive” 6.8 percent in 2016, the Aquino administration fell short of the targets it set in the PDP 2011-2016. The previous administration had wanted to grow GDP by 7 percent to 8 percent in 2015 and 2016. Actual figures, however, were lower at 5.9 percent in 2015 and 6.8 percent last year. Among the three major economic sectors, agriculture was the laggard. Even after tweaking the targets for the sector, the Aquino administration had a hard time meeting its growth goals for agriculture, pegged at 2 percent to 3 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2016. Last year farm output even contracted by 1.3 percent.
In its PDP, the Duterte administration had shown, in broad strokes, how it intends to uplift the lives of Filipinos and regain their trust in government. The current administration appears to subscribe to the idea that the little things matter, especially for the poor. This can be deduced from the Duterte administration’s focus on equipping government offices with adequate facilities and training government personnel to provide prompt and efficient service to citizens. “Clean and efficient” are the favorite adjectives used by Duterte in describing the kind of government he wants, and he has warned inept and corrupt bureaucrats that they have no place in his administration.
Following the release of the PDP, it is now up to the line agencies and other state-run institutions to see to it that the targets of the economic blueprint and the aspirations of AmBisYon Natin 2040 are met. Guided by this PDP, it is imperative for other government agencies to judiciously make use of taxpayers’ money to fund interventions aimed at improving people’s lives.
Some government agencies, such as the departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry, have already crafted road maps that detail strategies for hiking the production of certain sectors. Officials must be cognizant of the fact that the President only has five more years to deliver on his promises to the Filipino people, as he is stepping down in 2022. All of them must now act with a sense of urgency.