AN accounting system for the country’s natural resources would produce data that would more accurately represent the country’s economic output, an official of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) told a joint Senate hearing.
PSA Assistant National Statistician Vivian R. Ilarina said the current economic framework does not cover the base value of natural resources such as mineral reserves and their subsequent use.
“In the accounting of the national accounts of the gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national income, we are not accounting for the mineral resources because [they are] capital resources,” she told senators.
“You are growing economically by ‘dismatch’ at the expense of the resources. They may be fully degraded but you are not accounting them,” Ms. Ilarina said.
Ms. Ilarina said natural resource calculations are possible, citing a test on physical accounting for copper, gold, nickel and chromium under the Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (Phil-WAVES), a World Bank-led project with 89 pilot countries, including the Philippines.
“This is to test whether is it feasible to do the asset accounts… we look at the, first, the inventory: what are the stocks at the start of the year and then look at the changes that affects the beginning stock and at the end of the year, you have then the closing stock,” she said.
“Imagine if this is done for our forests, for our mangroves, for all minerals for even the quality of our air,” Senator Lorna Regina B. Legarda, who presided over the hearing, said.
The Senate panel is deliberating a measure that would establish an information system and accounting framework on the country’s natural inputs and outputs and its impact on the country’s economy.
Two of the three measures filed said the proposed Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) will follow international standards approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission.
According to the measures, natural capital includes air, water, soil, minerals, forests, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and all living things.
The proposed PENCAS is under the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council’s (LEDAC) common legislative agenda.
“These bills will more accurately reflect the true state of the nation’s wealth,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia “Toni” Yulo-Loyzaga told the hearing.
“It will enable strategic planning for sustainable development and climate and disaster resilience by establishing the baseline accounts for the Philippine Development Plan,” she said.
The committee will conduct another hearing in June to discuss the measure. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz