A GOVERNMENT SCORECARD that tracks the Philippines’ progress in meeting economic development targets showed the government making strides in curbing anti-competitive practices and promoting ecological integrity, but performing poorly in agriculture, governance and culture.
According to the Statistical Indicators on Philippine Development (StatDev) 2018, 138 out of the 307 indicators show “high likelihood” of hitting targets by 2022, when President Rodrigo R. Duterte ends his six-year term.
The report, released on Tuesday by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), also showed 42 indicators had “medium likelihood” while 127 showed “low likelihood” of meeting targets.
“A great majority (59%) of the indicators covered in StatDev 2018 posted either high or medium likelihood of achieving the target early at the first two years of the medium term,” the report read.
StatDev monitors the progress of meeting economic and social development goals set under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.
Among the 14 PDP sectors, 11 “had at least half of their respective indicators exhibiting high or medium likelihood of achieving the target in 2022,” the PSA said.
Having a “high likelihood” means a target is likely to be achieved by 2022 while “medium likelihood” means a target may or not be achieved.
“Low likelihood” means that a target is “not likely” to be met.
“It is great to see some of the progress we’ve made so far in terms of achieving the PDP 2017-2022 but… there are some sectors that appear to be lagging in terms of timelines,” said ING Bank N.V. Manila senior economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa.
The StatDev report noted, in particular, the progress made in the competitiveness and environment sectors.
Under competitiveness, the report noted the proportion of studies on competition law and economics of major academic and research institutions completed at 7.9% in 2018, which was “almost twice greater” than the four percent target in 2022. It also mentioned the country’s high rankings in the Global Competitiveness Index in 2018, particularly in the index pillars of business dynamism (Top 28%) and product market efficiency (Top 43%) that had already attained their respective targets.
In the environment sector, the PSA cited passing marks in terms of total area of planted mangroves, saying that the 1,916 hectares of newly planted mangroves in 2018 alone nearly reached the 2022 target of 1,974 additional hectares.
“Also, the number of issued Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title from 2017 to 2018 have gone beyond the target of 26 for the whole six-year medium term. Likewise, the coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas had exceeded its target in 2022,” the PSA added.
On the other hand, the report cited low likelihood of meeting targets in agriculture, governance, and culture and values.
“The yield of 11 out of 12 major commodities posted low likelihood of achieving the 2022 target. More so, the number of fisherfolk provided with production support as of 2018 was still far from the end-of-plan target of 1.4 million,” the report noted of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The targets set under cultures and values would also not likely be met: “Despite having development plans with culture components for all 17 regions, the number of documentations conducted on indigenous knowledge systems and practices; and the percentage of provinces, cities and municipalities with Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representation, both in 2018, showed low likelihood of achieving the target in 2022,” the PSA said.
For governance, the PSA noted the decrease in the percentage of provinces, cities and municipalities with the required nongovernment organization representation in the Local Development Council.
“Also, only three of four national government agencies were fully compliant with the Transparency Seal as of 2018,” PSA added.
Among silver linings in governance was a high Open Budget Index score, which denotes budget transparency. The latest figure was in 2017 when the Philippines had a transparency score of 67, which is on track in meeting the target score of 71 by 2022.
Despite the government’s aggressive push for infrastructure spending, goals set in the infrastructure category are mixed.
“[T]he infrastructure drive of the government looks to help bridge the gap between target and completion, and we’ve seen early gains so far such as headway in power, low-cost housing and transport infrastructure,” ING Bank’s Mr. Mapa said.
“Gaps, however, have surfaced in areas that may be linked to soft infrastructure (associated with higher value added creation) and on the other side of the spectrum: in basic services.”
In terms of physical infrastructure, the PSA said the end-of-plan target power requirements in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao had been achieved in 2018.
The number of round-trip international flights for Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and Clark International Airport would also likely be met.
“However, for social infrastructure, classroom-to-pupil ratio in primary schools in School Year 2017-2018 had low likelihood of achieving the target in 2022. Also, for infrastructure on information and communications technology, the proportion of public schools with computer packages posted low likelihood.”
Positives in the area of the macroeconomy include the annual value of microfinance services delivery, which was “more than twice greater than the target of P10 billion and above,” and the value of export goods wherein the 2018 value of $67.5 billion had already surpassed the end-of-plan target of $61-62.2 billion.
On the flip side, the export of services for 2018 amounted to just $37.5 billion, below the $61-68.6 billion target.
“From the performance across the sectors, we’ve seen several themes emerge which may trace their roots to the fact that we may be short of achieving critical mass through our reform agenda,” ING Bank’s Mr. Mapa said.
Moving forward, the economist hopes to see the government “chase these goals with more zeal” in the remaining three years of the Duterte administration.
“In order to truly uplift the economy and chase [AmBisyon Natin 2040], we’ll need to see the government deliver across the full range of the spectrum — strengthening basic services, but at the same time, chase a higher growth path by championing higher value creation with investments in science and technology,” Mr. Mapa said. — Marissa Mae M. Ramos