We can dream, can’t we?

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No Filipino will be poor by 2040.

That’s not a midterm poll candidate talking. It’s not even a promise by one trying to woo Juan de la Cruz. Fact is, it is a program set into motion at the start of President Duterte’s term in 2016 and expected to span three administrations thereafter.

Sounds ambitious? You bet it is. Unknown to many, “AmBisyon Natin 2040” is a program that envisions a “prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor by the year 2040.” It is a picture of the future, a vision that serves as anchor to the country’s plans.

By 2040, the program sees Filipinos enjoying a strongly rooted, comfortable and secure life, secure in the knowledge that they have enough for their daily needs and unexpected expenses, where families live in a place they call their own and have the freedom to go where they desire and protected and enabled by a clean, efficient and fair government.

According to the program, economic growth must be relevant, inclusive and sustainable.
Over the next 25 years, until 2040, per capita income must increase by at least threefold.
More than the increase in income, economic growth must progressively improve the quality of life of majority of Filipinos.

“AmBisyon” can be partly achieved by having competitive enterprises that offer quality goods and services at affordable prices. Government must encourage investments in these sectors by improving market linkages, simplifying government procedures and facilitating access to finance. These should be complemented by appropriate human capital development, science, technology and innovation.

In 2016, two months after he took over the government, President Duterte signed Executive Order 5 providing for the adoption of “Ambisyon Natin 2040,” a 25-year, long-term vision for development planning. It is akin to former President Fidel Ramos’ similarly ambitious “Philippines 2000,” which aimed for an economic development that would place the Philippines among the newly industrialized countries in the world at the turn of the century. Under the plan, several industries critical to economic development were privatized. The program was doing well until it was overran by the 1997 financial crisis that had the Philippine economy taking a sharp downturn.

Probably inspired by what could have been, the National Economic Development Authority in 2017 launched the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the blueprint for the country’s development under the Duterte administration. It is the first of four medium-term plans that will work towards realizing “AmBisyon 2040,” the collective vision of Filipinos over the next 25 years.

By 2022, the plan sees the Philippines as an upper-middle income country with a GDP growth rate of 7 to 8 percent in the medium term.

Overall poverty rate is targeted to decline from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 14 percent by 2022. Poverty incidence in rural areas is intended to decrease from 30 percent to 20 percent for the same period.

The unemployment rate will also go down to 3 to 5 percent by 2022 from 5.5 percent in 2016. Other targets are higher trust in government and society, more resilient individuals and communities and a greater drive for innovation.

Embedded in the development plan are bedrock strategies that provide the necessary environment for the plan to work. These include achieving peace and security, accelerating infrastructure development, building resilient communities and ensuring ecological integrity.
“We already have the goal. Now here’s the plan to turn “AmBisyon Natin 2040” into reality,” Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning Ernesto Pernia was quoted to have said during the plan’s launch.

Just recently, Malacañang released Memorandum Order (MO) 59 that directs government agencies to implement a program aimed at accelerating poverty reduction in the country.

Signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, as authorized by the Chief Executive, on 6 March 2019, the order bats for the stepped-up delivery of social services to ensure that the poverty rate is down to 7.6 percent by the time Mr. Duterte’s term concludes in 2022.

MO 59 enjoins all government offices, agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations, to actively support, implement and participate in the “Sambayanihan: Serbisyong Sambayanan.”

The program is steered to “ensure a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to poverty alleviation and the widest deployment of basic social services to our poorest communities.”

If the program comes to its full fruition, we want to see the day when there will be less and less Filipinos looking for jobs abroad and allowing the country to benefit from their respective expertise.

No one is poor? It may sound like Utopia, but we can dream, can’t we?

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