“Inclusive” forum kicks off new Philippine Development Plan
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a board meeting with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) at the State Dining Hall inside the Malacañan Palace Nov. 14. SIMEON CELI JR/Presidential Photo
Davao City- Aiming to reduce poverty by 8% in 2022, the 8th Philippine Development Forum held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City drew 300 participants from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, as civil society actors engaged business and government leaders, and representatives from international banks and donor agencies to flesh out details to push the 10 point socioeconomic agenda of the Philippine government and set the stage for the next 5 year Philippine Development Plan.
Chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza, the two-day event aimed to push further detailed discussion jumping from previous conferences to build the country’s next five year economic development plan.
Discussion as Jump off from previous consultations, to push solutions
Jumping off from the results of the Ambisyon 2040 survey commissioned by the NEDA last year, the conference aimed to further develop details to achieve poverty reduction through the “vigorous implementation” of the 0-10 Point Socioeconomic Agenda formed during the Sulong Pilipinas consultative conference last June in Davao.
This agenda calls for, among others, accelerated infrastructure spending, promoting competitiveness and ease of doing business, social protection programs, agriculture and value chain development, and the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.
Conference co-chair Jesus Dureza set the further framework for the discussion saying that “overdiagnosed the problem but lacking in medicine”. Hence, the details and partnerships to push further cooperation and implementation will be necessary, and built in the PDF.
Unique format blends substance, efficiency and participation
According to Dominguez, the forum represents public engagement in the formulation of national plans’, and will be repeated annually with stakeholders, and brought to the regional level to catalyze the same process.
The conference followed a plenary and breakout session format to allow for participative and substantive discussions.
The plenary sessions utilized a Town Hall format, where questions were fielded from the floor to be answered by selected cabinet members and members of the economic team along with business and civil society leaders.
Breakout discussions with interested delegates were organized along the following: Macroeoconomic and Fiscal Policies, Rural Development, Mindanao Peace and Development, Human Capital Development and Infrastructure and Competitiveness. Session reports were collated and summarized, and presented again at plenary the next day prior to the close of the Conference.
The early highlight of the opening session was a “selfie” session where the delegates were asked to take a selfie and post to #PDF2016. According to the organizers, this recognizes the need to be more inclusive not only within the list of delegates but the public as well, through social media.
Raising Hopes, Asking Questions
The town hall sessions encouraged questions particularly from civil society organizations, that for the most part, have joined the PDF for the first time. This generated a lot of discussion all the way into the breakout sessions, and continued the atmosphere of dialogue that began in June’s Sulong Pilipinas Forum, and the Social Development summit in August. The challenge for government and its partners will be to obtain better numbers, and socioeconomic impacts by the time the next PDF comes around.