AGRICULTURE promises the opportunity to generate jobs while also addressing the Philippines’ food-security needs en route to making the country richer and more equitable, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said.
“On the side of food security, we need to have more people in the agriculture and aquatic sectors. The market is there. That would give job opportunities. Another is education. I am optimistic. The vision is achievable,” PCCI President George T. Barcelon said during the first day of the 49th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E) in Manila on Wednesday.
The PCCI set a timeline of 2050, by which time the Philippines has the potential to become a “first-world” country.
“We are aiming to go further toward 2050, when our country should have already attained first-world status. We have windows of opportunity (such as) our demographic sweet spot of young, technologically-savvy workforce, and our location, right in the middle of the world’s fastest emerging region — ASEAN and Asia.”
Mr. Barcelon said the PCCI’s timeline is called Vision 2050. It also aims for zero hunger, ready access to affordable housing, healthcare, higher levels of education, living with human dignity, and an improved happiness index score.
“In 2050, every Filipino should already be benefitting fully in an equitable society providing equal opportunity for all. We embark on this not to personally witness this revolutionary journey, but to actually envision a progressive country that will bring benefits for generation to come,” Mr. Barcelon said.
The Philippines is classified as a lower middle-income economy, by the World Bank. The government is aiming to reach upper middle-income status by 2025.
“It is a big challenge that could test and strengthen our country, our unity, our courage and our efforts. Vision 2050 is a modernization path toward a resilient, sustainable, inclusive growth,” Mr. Barcelon said.
Felino A. Palafox, Jr., 49th PBC&E chairman, said that achieving Vision 2050 will require collective effort.
“With strong collaboration among government, the private sector, and civil society and with five effective, efficient, visionary, and action-driven leaders, Presidents, and administrations, the country could achieve its goals,” he added.
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian highlighted during the event the need to fix the education system, particularly the quality of education in public schools.
“To become a first-world country by 2050, this is something that we all have been working together on, hopefully giving our next generation a better future compared to ours. However, we cannot reach that first-world status without addressing basic concerns and basic issues, particularly in basic education because that’s where the foundation begins, Mr. Gatchalian said.
Mr. Barcelon noted that the quality of learning has declined.
“I’m not blaming any administration. But over the years, (education) has been neglected,” Mr. Barcelon said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave