NEDA HEAD EXUDES OPTIMISM ON ECONOMY

There is an unmistakable glint in the eyes of Acting Socio-Economic Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua when he unveiled today what the government’s economic team is planning to do to restore the country’s “growth trajectory” in an #AskNEDA briefing.


And that growth trajectory envisioned encompass a Great Reset of the economic roadmap such that every Filipino, according to the youthful economist, will “reach our shared aspirations: matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay.”

For this reason, the NEDA which he heads is updating the Philippine Development Plan of 2017-2022 that was struck down by the COVID-19 pandemic, to incorporate the new realities in the economic team’s game plan to reduce poverty incidence and push for economic reforms.

The road ahead is rocky but for Chua, it is straight out of his playbook when he was still the World Bank country head for the Philippines, where he postulated economic theories that banked on raising taxes and uplifting the poor.

Six years ago, he conceptualized a framework for raising taxes meant to be equitable, meaning those who can afford it should be tasked to contribute to government revenues. And that he did as an undersecretary in the Department of Finance where he defended in all media outlets and other business fora his take on increasing taxes.

Chua earned for himself many enemies, especially those who saw the increased taxes, such as on gas, as unnecessary. He earned for himself the monicker, the face of Train Law, the revenue measure that raised needed revenues for the Philippines.

A man in a hurry to do great things for the country, Chua said that the update to the Philippine Development Plan would be finished by August which will incorporate what he termed “ a resiliency plan to help the Philippines be better prepared “against future disruptions.”

He is at home in this stratagem as he had labored for years looking at the Philippine economy and coming up with a treatise on how to shepherd the country to a better economic future. His economic treatise on the Philippines says it all: Making growth work for the poor.

Thus, by August, the country can have a glimpse on how the economic team and the NEDA would try to go past this COVID-19 pandemic and The Financial District is confident that a responsive and adaptive program will be at hand to confront the ever-evolving realities.

As of now, Chua is confident that the economic team where he belongs can see through an early recovery for the country next year after a projected contraction in economic growth this year due to the effects of the quarantine lockdown that resulted in the higher unemployment rate.

According to Chua, there are three economic indicators that augur well for the Philippine economy that could improve the economic team’s chances at restoring growth and confidence and that includes a work-in-progress with Congress to pass several important measures that are meant to reenergize the economy.

Chua cited the three positive signs as the low inflation environment, the uptick in the manufacturing activity and the rise of the digital economy.

The digital economy is what Chua is so inspired about as it can increase efficiency in business operations and public service delivery. Online transactions will now become the standard for engaging clients, buyers and suppliers, he said.

Thus he is encouraging the private sector to invest in digital technology, which could provide the backdrop to that gold standard that Chua desires for the Philippines when he was still part of the World Bank as an economist trying to tweak the economic models to see a vibrant and healthy Philippines.

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