Economic development group tackles challenges to PH growth prospects

The Philippine government’s newly created Economic Development Group (EDG), co-chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) secretaries, held its inaugural meeting to discuss potential solutions and ways forward for the country’s pressing economic issues.

On May 17, 2023, NEDA, together with member agencies of the EDG, addressed various challenges that could potentially affect the trajectory of the Philippine economy.

Among these challenges are the potential impact of the impending El Niño crisis, slow global economic growth affecting the country’s trade performance, and the efficient implementation and consistent monitoring of high-priority government projects.

“The Economic Development Group remains committed to ensuring that the country stays on track to meet its medium-term socioeconomic goals, despite domestic challenges and constraints and a weaker global growth outlook,” said NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The EDG discussed updates on the monitoring system for the country’s infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) under the government’s Build-Better-More program, the development of high-frequency monitoring systems for priority budget items, other government projects, and agriculture matters, and the proposed policy responses and contingency plans for addressing the impact of El Niño.

NEDA is currently developing a public dashboard for the IFPs to enhance transparency and accountability among implementing agencies.

The dashboard will also help in identifying and addressing bottlenecks and constraints that may hinder the timely implementation of the projects.

Currently, the Department of Transportation tracks the progress of major transportation projects with respect to their right-of-way acquisition and construction, while the Department of Public Works and Highways monitors the progress of strategic projects related to traffic decongestion, seamless and inclusive connectivity, and sustainable and resilient communities.

Additionally, the Department of Agriculture, along with NEDA, proposed preparatory activities to adequately equip, prepare, and assist farmers in coping with the looming El Niño phenomenon.

Examples of these activities include retooling and strengthening the government’s disaster response, conducting weekly monitoring of local field conditions, conducting regional assessments, ensuring adequate buffer stocks, and promoting early planting for the dry season in water deficit areas.

Meanwhile, dashboards of relevant socioeconomic and sectoral statistics will be instrumental in providing timely recommendations and policies related to importation and measures to address high food inflation in the country.

The dashboards shall serve as a “single source of truth” to expedite data processing in government and to foster harmonization of initiatives across agencies.

The Department of Trade and Industry also emphasized the need to bolster efforts in developing domestic industries by addressing constraints to production and developing a strong, innovative export ecosystem to accelerate growth amid a challenging global economic outlook.

In a sectoral meeting held last March, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. approved the creation of the EDG to assist the Executive Branch in harmonizing, coordinating, complementing, and synergizing the efforts that will ensure the country’s rapid, inclusive, and sustained growth. The EDG is expected to provide the President its recommendations on the various issues discussed.

Representatives and principals from other member government agencies were present, including the Presidential Management Staff, the Departments of Trade and Industry, Budget and Management, Agriculture, Public Works and Highways, Transportation, Information and Communications Technology, Energy, Science and Technology, Tourism, Interior and Local Government, and Labor and Employment.