UST holds first economic briefing; Uncertainties, opportunities in PH discussed

UST Department of Economics Chair Emmanuel Lopez and Political Science professor Edmund Tayao answer questions from the audience. photo by LORENZO ABEL S. DIONISIO
UST Department of Economics Chair Emmanuel Lopez and Political Science professor Edmund Tayao answer questions from the audience. photo by LORENZO ABEL S. DIONISIO

THE UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas (UST) Department of Economics held its first economic forecasting forum dubbed Tiger Look yesterday, projecting uncertainties and opportunities in the Philippine economy and government this 2016.

UST Department of Economics Chair Emmanuel Lopez anticipated economic growth to reach 6.5 to 6.7 percent this year with the surge of consumer spending and continuous flourishing of the service sector.

Lopez also said the upcoming national elections will inject P15 billion in the local economy which is expected to create “temporary employment.”

“It may be inflationary in nature but at the middle of the year, it will bring back to the previous natural status of the natural unemployment because the creation of job is starting this January up to June,” he added.

Lopez is also optimistic that the stock market will recover and rebound by the second half of the year after being down in the past months, with the boost in private and public spending during the elections period.

With the full integration of the Southeast Asian nations this year, Lopez sees both risks and opportunities for the Philippine economy particularly in solving unemployment, noting that the country should not be reliant on this as “selected professions are only allowed to breakthrough in the ASEAN.”

“The government needs to be cognizant of the requirements to minimize risk as well as maximize benefits in the proposed economic integration,” he said, adding the government should invest more on human capital to sustain its demographic sweet spot.

Meanwhile, Political Science professor Edmund Tayao looks forward to another opportunity in the 2016 elections to elect a “right leader who will usher us in a new era of development and prosperity.”

Tayao said, however, that the prevailing system in the country hinders right leaders from being elected, emphasizing that “even if we are able to elect the right one to put the house in order and place a number of policies and programs, the question is [whether] this will be followed through by the next administration.”

Tayao believes that the vicious cycle of Philippine politics and governance should cease, otherwise, the Philippines will remain a developing country.

The renowned political analyst advocates the passage of Political Party Development Act and Freedom of Information Law, revision of the Local Government Code of 1991, reform in the judicial system, to name a few ─ all of which require “tremendous political capital and will.”

Both Lopez and Tayao agreed that the regime of Pres. Benigno Aquino III is just an economy and administration of “perception” as concrete accomplishments were not achieved, particularly in terms of poverty reduction.

In order to attain real development, the Economics department head said the country should overcome challenges of reducing poverty incidence and promoting inclusive growth.

Tiger Look is an economic briefing to be held annually by the University’s newly-installed Department of Economics. This year’s event is in partnership with the UST Department of Political Science and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, an international foundation offering a wide variety of civic education conferences and events. CELSO L. CRISOSTOMO, JR. 

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