President Aquino underscores importance of inclusive growth

BALI, Indonesia, (PNA) — President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of inclusive growth or the task of government to ensure that everyone benefits from a country’s economic growth, saying that “inclusiveness matters because it ensures the stability of societies, and consequently, the sustainability of growth.”

In his remarks at the 21st Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit Conversation with Leaders entitled “Why Inclusive Growth Matters,” the President stressed that including all to pitch in for a country’s economic growth empowers people to become contributors to nation building.

“The challenge for governments has deepened: When in the past we gravitated towards metrics that reflect merely the wealth collectively amassed by an economy, more and more the task of governments has become ensuring that this wealth is not concentrated in the hands of the few, but rather that it is equitably utilized to raise levels of human development. In this manner, we engender a situation wherein the broader base of society can benefit from opportunities opening up through economic growth,” the President said.

“Without these factors, a nation may perhaps experience periods of cyclical growth; any progress, however, will be prone to disruption. Because so long as a society has reason to clamor for change—whether due to a pervading sense of inequality, injustice, unfairness, or lack of opportunity—it will find ways to do so. This, perhaps, offers some insight into the question posed to us today: “Why does inclusive growth matter?” First: Inclusiveness matters because it ensures the stability of societies, and consequently, the sustainability of growth,” he added.

“The equation for sustainability is also integral to a second, perhaps, more important aspect. On top of fostering stability, social inclusiveness also empowers citizens to become bonafide economic actors that can productively contribute to nation-building. It allows them to buy into the system, from which they can reap benefits,” the President further said.

He pointed out that in the Philippines, his government had focused a substantial amount of the national budget to fund social services in education, health and poverty alleviation in advocating inclusive growth.

He said the pro-poor Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program now benefits four million families and has even expanded its scope to include families with children in high school as “there is a forty percent increase in income for those who finished high school versus elementary graduates.”

The President also said that providing the opportunity for all Filipinos to learn by giving more classrooms, textbooks, chairs and tables; and the introduction of a new school curriculum “will increase the competitiveness of our graduates in the global arena.”

“I also signed into law two bills that have languished in Congress for years, not least because of intense lobbying from entrenched interests: The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, which mandates access to information on family planning, and the Sin Tax Reform Act, which earmarks increased revenue from tobacco and alcohol into health services. This will certainly accelerate our Universal Health Care agenda, which we continue to aggressively pursue,” the President said.

He noted that “these are direct government interventions that we are pursuing as a proactive way of encouraging the equitable distribution of wealth—part of a concerted plan to ensure that all sectors take part in economic growth and partake in the prosperity it brings.”

“Our task is to ensure that our people have the wherewithal to utilize, and indeed maximize, the opportunities opening up with the newfound revitalization of our economy,” the President said.