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Technology Key to the Philippines’ High-income Ambitions

Cutting-edge and new technology are going to be central to the country’s economic ascendancy and the Philippines has taken its first steps on that journey. According to the government’s top economist, policies are now in place to use new technologies in unlocking the country’s potential to be a high-income economy.

In a recent interview during the country’s celebration of the National Innovation Day, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Karl Kendrick Chua said the Philippine Innovation Act will raise the country’s productivity through research and development, and using new technologies and processes.

This will enable us to shift from low-value-added to high-value-added activities and unlock the potential to become a high-income country. We still have a long way to go before becoming an innovation hub like South Korea or Singapore, but there is no doubt that Filipinos have the innate talent, grit, and creativity to make this possible.

– Karl Kendrick Chua, Director-General, National Economic and Development Authority

The national innovation agenda will highlight priority innovation areas and streamline the development, implementation and coordination of innovation policies and strategies in the country. This year, the National Innovation Council and stakeholders will craft the National Innovation Strategy document guided by the Philippine Innovation Toolkit. Such a move has been affirmed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). For one, Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said the agency puts science, technology, and innovation “at the heart” of its industrial policy.

Aldaba said the enactment of the Philippine Innovation Act indicates the government’s strong commitment to pursue innovation to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Moreover, she commented that innovation is the key to economic growth. It leads to improvements in competitiveness and productivity, and is the secret sauce for the success of many advanced countries, she added.

Chua calls for innovation and in the process points out the importance of smart technology. He disclosed his emerging priorities for the remainder of the term. These are innovation, regional equity, smart infrastructure, and climate change. These priorities are crucial in setting the stage for the next level of our development.

There may not be a better analogy for the importance of digital transformation than during the pandemic. In a way, the virus has made the need for digitalisation most pronounced, more than any other vehicle today.

The Philippines is no exemption from this. The use of digital technologies has made it far easier for millions of Filipinos to cope with the exigencies of the health scare. Thus, digital payments, telemedicine, e-commerce and online education have become household words in the country. These technologies are rising in the Philippines helping just about everyone (individuals, business entities and the government) cope with the long-drawn-out struggle.

The government today is seeking digital adoption to serve its constituents better. In the aftermath of one of the strongest typhoons in history to ever visit the country, typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines installed VSATs in remote areas to help people connect via the internet. The Chief Justice of the Philippines wants to make the most of Artificial Intelligence to hasten the resolution of long-overdue cases.

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