President Aquino in Bali for 21st APEC Summit, pitches inclusive growth

President Benigno Aquino III talks on inclusive growth at the APEC CEO Leaders' forum. The President arrived in Bali just before noon for the 21st APEC summit. AFP PHOTO
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BALI, Indonesia, - (UPDATE2: 7:21PM)President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of inclusive growth or the task of government to ensure that everyone benefits from a country’s economic growth, saying that “inclusiveness matters because it ensures the stability of societies, and consequently, the sustainability of growth.”

Arriving in Bali for the 21st Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, he immediately went to the APEC-CEO Summit Conversation with Leaders and spoke on “Why Inclusive Growth Matters.” The President stressed that including all to pitch in for a country’s economic growth empowers people to become contributors to nation building.

“The challenge for governments has deepened: When in the past we gravitated towards metrics that reflect merely the wealth collectively amassed by an economy, more and more the task of governments has become ensuring that this wealth is not concentrated in the hands of the few, but rather that it is equitably utilized to raise levels of human development. In this manner, we engender a situation wherein the broader base of society can benefit from opportunities opening up through economic growth,” the President said.

“Without these factors, a nation may perhaps experience periods of cyclical growth; any progress, however, will be prone to disruption. Because so long as a society has reason to clamor for change—whether due to a pervading sense of inequality, injustice, unfairness, or lack of opportunity—it will find ways to do so. This, perhaps, offers some insight into the question posed to us today: "Why does inclusive growth matter?" First: Inclusiveness matters because it ensures the stability of societies, and consequently, the sustainability of growth,” he added.

“The equation for sustainability is also integral to a second, perhaps, more important aspect. On top of fostering stability, social inclusiveness also empowers citizens to become bonafide economic actors that can productively contribute to nation-building. It allows them to buy into the system, from which they can reap benefits,” the President further said.

He pointed out that in the Philippines, his government had focused a substantial amount of the national budget to fund social services in education, health and poverty alleviation in advocating inclusive growth.

He said the pro-poor Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program now benefits 4 million families and has even expanded its scope to include families with children in high school as “there is a 40-percent increase in income for those who finished high school versus elementary graduates.”

The President also said that providing the opportunity for all Filipinos to learn by giving more classrooms, textbooks, chairs and tables; and the introduction of a new school curriculum “will increase the competitiveness of our graduates in the global arena.”

“I also signed into law two bills that have languished in Congress for years, not least because of intense lobbying from entrenched interests: The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, which mandates access to information on family planning, and the Sin Tax Reform Act, which earmarks increased revenue from tobacco and alcohol into health services. This will certainly accelerate our Universal Health Care agenda, which we continue to aggressively pursue,” the President said.

He noted that “these are direct government interventions that we are pursuing as a proactive way of encouraging the equitable distribution of wealth—part of a concerted plan to ensure that all sectors take part in economic growth and partake in the prosperity it brings.”

The government's task, he said, "is to ensure that our people have the wherewithal to utilize, and indeed maximize, the opportunities opening up with the newfound revitalization of our economy.” 

Lean delegation with PNoy

The President left Manila at 8 a.m. Sunday for Bali, Indonesia on chartered Philippine Airlines flight PR 001.

The Chief Executive was accompanied by a lean delegation that includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, and Presidential Management Staff Chief Secretary Julia Abad.

The President and his delegation arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali around 11:45 a.m.

The President is now attending the APEC CEO Summit at 2 p.m. Sunday, where he is set to have conversations with other world leaders regarding the theme “Why Inclusive Growth Matters”.

He is also set to attend a dinner hosted by the APEC CEO Summit at 7 p.m. at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang said the President is expected to share the reforms that the Aquino administration has undertaken during the last three years that “have borne a lot of fruit in terms of increased confidence in the Philippine economy and in the management of the economy.”

Part of the agenda of the President is likewise to lure more foreign investors to invest in the Philippines. “He will be talking to people from the business community and will be having informal discussions also with a number of other world leaders,” Carandang said. (PNA)