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Assessing The New Administration's First Six Months

By: Philip Arnold P. Tuaño
As we begin to open the year 2017, it seems to be an appropriate time to evaluate the performance of the Duterte administration in terms of economic and social dimensions. After all, the new President stated during the electoral campaign in the middle of 2016 that he would be able to solve many problems in the country, “[including] drugs, criminality and corruption in three to six months” after his election, according to an interview with a foreign press agency. Therefore, it would be good to briefly take stock of government actions and also to assess the challenges that need to be undertaken in this year.
At the level of broad macroeconomic indicators, the country continues to enjoy the economic progress that has benefited many Filipinos in the past few years. In the third quarter of 2016, according to national income account data, the economy grew by 7.1 percent in GDP terms, which is almost similar to the 7-percent growth in the same quarter in 2015. Unemployment continues to decline at 4.7 percent of the labor force last October, compared to 5.6 percent in the same month the previous year, even if underemployment slightly increased to 18 percent. Inflation has stayed below 3 percent, even if there has been a recent surge in oil prices during the past few weeks. The self-rated poverty and hunger indices of the Social Weather Stations, which has been monitoring welfare for the past three decades, has declined to record lows, which is a continuation of trends since 2014.
In terms of the eight-point agenda unveiled by the administration in its first few days, there is very little concrete progress so far as many of the items necessitate institutional of more medium- and long-term policy changes. But while the President’s “free hand” given to the government’s economic managers seem to “provide enough leeway to craft a high economic-growth path” (see Businessmirror, December 28, 2016, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/free-hand-given-by-duterte-to-govt-econ...), it might also show the lack of focus on the necessities of development, beyond criminality and drug issues. These agenda points include the following:
Read the full article at http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/assessing-the-new-administrations-first...