19 June 2013, Manila Standard Today

by Jennifer Ambanta


The National Economic and Development Authority said Tuesday that deepening the relationship with middle-income countries can boost economic growth and reduce poverty.

Neda director-general Arsenio Balisacan said lessons and best practices from other middle-income countries could help the Philippines improve its poverty reduction and infrastructure programs toward inclusive growth.

He noted that substantial poverty reduction in the past two decades was achieved in developing countries as reflected by the rapid economic growth in MICs, especially in Asia.

“The variety of experiences of the MICs in dealing with inequality offers a rare opportunity for learning lessons and sharing best practices toward scaling up of programs and activities that will help achieve inclusive growth, both nationally and globally,” said Balisacan during the High-Level Conference of Middle-Income Countries in San Jose, Costa Rica on June 12, 2013.

He said the improvement was crucial in the area of market access, especially for exports of developing countries, and link to technology

He cited India’s recent experience with the use of new technology to properly identify the deserving poor from the population, which reduced the leakage of program benefits to the non-poor.

“This shows that targeting programs to the poor need not be fiscally prohibitive,” the Cabinet official said.

He also noted that the conditional cash transfer schemes pioneered in Latin America, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia and Mexico’s Oportunidades, had helped those countries in virtually winning their war against acute poverty.

“In Southeast Asia, informed by the Latin American experiences, the Philippines has embarked on a large-scale CCT program to complement its newly-acquired status as one of the fastest-growing Asian countries today. We hope to reap the same benefits from this program like what the Latin American countries have done,” said Balisacan.

The World Bank recently commended the Philippines’ CCT program, saying its effect was slowly being felt by the grant holders.