Agri, tourism main drivers of inclusive growth — PDF 2013

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 February) — Support to agriculture and tourism to create more jobs is important to the goal of achieving inclusive growth, according to the economic development cluster of the Philippine Development Forum held here last February 4-5.

“These are the areas where we can create quality jobs quickly as compared to other areas,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a press conference after the closing program of the forum Tuesday, adding they will work with partners so that agriculture and tourism will be given attention.

In his summary report of the PDF 2013 delivered Tuesday to the President, Motoo Konishi, PDF co-chair and country director of World Bank Philippines said in the next three years, there is a need to improve the environment for the private sector to generate jobs, especially in agriculture and tourism.

He said the cost of doing business can be reduced through simplification and streamlining of regulations and processes, citing national single window, business entry and licensing.

“There is a need to urgently remove barriers to entry for private businesses, especially in the areas of inter-island shipping, which would help ease the pressure on food prices,” he said.

“In that regard, now that you have achieved increased palay (rice) production, there is a need to look at crops in which the Philippines has comparative advantage,” he continued.

He said that to further support the agenda, critical laws such as the National Land Use Code, the Competition Policy Law and the Cabotage Law need to be enacted or reviewed.

Asked whether focusing on agriculture and tourism would bring more mono-crop plantations and land use conversion in Mindanao, Purisima said, “Well, we really did not go into detail.”

Instead, he said, they were looking into how to create more jobs for Filipinos.

He said they will work within the limitations of the laws “as what have been done by many agricultural ventures in Davao and across Mindanao.”

“Tourism and agriculture are God-given resources to us and therefore we should make the necessary investment to realize the potentials,” he stressed.

But he said there is a need to strengthen public-private partnerships to better address skills mismatch and realign the curriculum to better meet labor market needs.

In the same press conference Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the discussions in the human development and poverty reduction cluster pointed to sustainable agriculture as the key to job creation.

The details, she added, will be discussed with local government units, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and national agencies. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)