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Better Future

It looks like we will have a jolly holiday season this year, with many of us preparing to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve with more festive activities than in the past three years. It is the time of the year when the family members gather around the dining table to thank God for the blessings they received in the past 12 months, and talk about the future.


As I have conveyed in my past columns, we have a lot of things to be thankful about as a nation. We have survived the pandemic and our economy has rebounded strongly with the reopening of various sectors. Despite the external challenges, we are poised to register one of the fastest growth rates in Southeast Asia, per the Asian Development Bank (ADB) assessment.


The ADB, in its December 2023 Asian Development Outlook (ADO), kept its 2023 growth forecast for the Philippines at 5.7 percent on the back of a strong domestic demand and amid low unemployment and steady remittance inflows from Filipinos working overseas.


Our gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 5.5 percent in the first three quarters, making it among the best-performing economies in Asia. Fourth-quarter growth is seen to be faster.


The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is even confident we can hit the lower end of the target range of 6 percent to 7 percent this year. This is possible if the economy grows at least 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter.


Government spending played a significant role in this growth. Public infrastructure spending, for one, improved to 5.9 percent of GDP in the first three quarters.


The business outlook also remains optimistic for 2024, per the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ third-quarter survey.


The future holds even greater promise. The ADB expects the Philippine economy to grow faster at 6.2 percent in 2024, as inflation rate begins to trend down. Inflation in November eased to 4.1 percent, near the government’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent for the year.


We may also achieve our target of becoming an upper middle-income society in a couple of years. In Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan’s estimates, our real GDP per capita already exceeded its pre-pandemic level.


Beyond 2023, the government is aiming for a GDP growth rate of 6.5 percent to 8.0 percent. The services sector, in particular, is expected to remain the major growth engine. Tourism, business process outsourcing and construction would likely generate the most number of jobs.


Per the Philippine Statistics Authority, unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in October 2023, its lowest since April 2005. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said this indicates the “remarkable progress” in the country.


Sustaining this momentum requires the active participation of our younger generation. Adept in digital technologies and brimming with innovative ideas, young Filipinos hold the key to tackling future challenges.


We need to encourage the next generation to take on the mantle of leadership. Young Filipinos have modern solutions and tools to address challenges that lie ahead.


I am confident in the ability of our children to carry this nation to a brighter and better future. After providing them with proper education, sharing with them our knowledge, skills and values and training them on the intricacies of modern life, we can rest assured that they are ready to take on the task of building and sustaining our economy.


Passing the baton is not just about delegating responsibilities, but also about putting our faith and trust in the next generation. It is the cycle that sustains families, communities and nations.


At the same time, we need to continue supporting and empowering them with wisdom that we have gained from our parents and through our life experience, so that our tradition, beliefs and principles will continue to thrive in the future.


I believe that with our guidance and the availability of modern solutions such as digital technology that we were not able to fully harness in the past, the next generation of Filipinos could realize the Ambisyon Natin 2040, or the vision of the Philippines being a prosperous middle-class society where no one is poor. 


Achieving our goal requires the collective effort of every Filipino. We must work together to sustain high economic growth that generates jobs and raises incomes while maintaining price stability.


As the festive lights of Christmas brighten our homes, let us also bask in the warmth of optimism and hope for a better future.


The Philippines is on a promising trajectory, and with continued dedication and collaboration, we can build a nation where prosperity becomes a reality for all.





Business Mirror/Author/MannyVillar