Cayetano: next leaders should focus on inclusive growth, real change

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said that the economic gains that the Philippines achieved under the Aquino administration are laudable, but it is up to the country’s next leaders to sustain this development by making sure that economic growth translates to more and better opportunities for the poor.

This was the reaction of Cayetano in the face of statements of the New-York based think tank Global Source that the 2016 presidential elections had brought “heightened uncertainty for investors” especially as it is “emerging as a multicontender race with no clear frontrunner who can assure continuity in the country’s economic development.

Cayetano, for his part, reminded the Filipino public to place their votes on a candidate who will not only continue the administration’s economic initiatives, but will also work towards expanding them in order to attain a more inclusive growth.

“Sa loob ng limang taong pagseserbisyo ni Pangulong Aquino, ang average growth ng ekonomiya natin ay umabot sa 6.5 percent. Pero nakalulungkot na hindi ito dama ng nakararaming mga mahirap na pamilyang Pilipino. Ang challenge ngayon ay kung paano ito maipararating sa lahat ng sektor ng lipunan. Halimbawa sa mga magsasaka, mga mangingisda at maging sa maliliit na negosyante,” Cayetano said.

The vice chair of the Senate committee on agriculture stressed that to make this kind of change possible, government should improve its anti-poverty initiatives by implementing more development, assistance and microfinance measures for the poor other than the current Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.

Cayetano reiterated his proposal to push for a massive infusion of government resources and funds into the development of small businesses in the country. He proposed that government should allot P1 billion worth of funds per region to institutionalize capital-lending programs that will support and promote the development of micro and small enterprises (MSMEs).

“Ang sabi nga sa Bibliya, ‘give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Hindi maikakaila na maraming mahihirap ang nakinabang sa CCT project ng gobyerno. But if we truly want to end our enduring problems on poverty and unemployment, we need to provide better livelihood opportunities for both the middle class and the poor,” he said.

Cayetano has been a staunch advocate for the development of local MSEs since his successful reelection campaign in 2013, during which he launched his PTK (Presyo, Trabaho, Kita/Kaayusan) platform in an effort to address people’s problems on high prices, lack of jobs, and low income. The senator’s PTK initiative aims to provide small-scale entrepreneurs more access to capital by establishing a micro-financing mechanism that will charge low interests in small loans.

Upon its establishment two years ago, the program has provided assistance to 149 associations of farmers, fishers, vendors, entrepreneurs, and transport groups in the Philippines. It has since then created real change in the lives of thousands of Filipino families, helping them reap the benefits of the country’s growing economy.#