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Philippines

How to scale up financial inclusion in ASEAN countries

José de Luna-Martínez's picture
MYR busy market

Globally, around 2 billion people do not use formal financial services. In Southeast Asia, there are 264 million adults who are still “unbanked”; many of them save their money under the mattress and borrow from so-called “loan sharks”, paying exorbitant interest rates on a daily or weekly basis. Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion for economic development, the leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made this one of their top priorities for the next five years.
 
Last week, the World Bank Group presented the latest data on financial inclusion in ASEAN to senior representatives of the ministries of finance and central banks of all 10 ASEAN member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The session, held in Kuala Lumpur, is one of the joint activities the new World Bank Research and Knowledge Hub and Malaysia is undertaking to support financial inclusion around the world.
 

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 

HIV in the Philippines: Up close and personal

Rennan Ocheda's picture
As a nurse manager assigned to the Taguig City Social Hygiene Clinic and Drop-In Center for more than a year now, I have gone through unpredictable, funny, scary, sad, happy, thrilling and worthwhile experiences that even in my wildest dreams I never imagined would happen in my life.
 
The days that I spent on the Big Cities project taught me how to handle different people from all walks of life, who were diagnosed HIV positive. Working there, I learned that HIV/AIDS does not choose its victims, whether rich or poor.
 
One of them happened to be my close friend. I really didn’t know how to tell him about his HIV status. It was hard… really hard to be his HIV counselor. It was difficult putting myself in his shoes, for example, when this diagnosis must’ve felt like the end of the world for him. But I knew that I had to be strong for my friend.
 
I wondered how I could help him if I wasn’t strong myself, so I promised him that I would do my best to support him, which was similar to what I do for other people living with HIV.
 

We must prepare now for another major El Niño

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
El Niño is back and may be stronger than ever.
 
A wooden boat is seen stranded on the dry cracked riverbed of the Dawuhan Dam during drought season in Madiun, Indonesia's East Java province.  October 28, 2015 © ANTARA FOTO/Reuters/Corbis



The latest cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters, first observed centuries ago and formally tracked since 1950, began earlier this year and already has been felt across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Weather experts predict this El Niño will continue into the spring of 2016 and could wreak havoc, because climate change is likely to exacerbate the intensity of storms and flooding in some places and of severe drought and water shortages in others.

El Niño’s impacts are global, with heavy rain and severe flooding expected in South America and scorching weather and drought conditions likely in the Horn of Africa region.

How is the conditional cash transfers program changing the politics of service delivery in Philippines?

Motoky Hayakawa's picture
Photo: Kenneth Pornillos / World Bank

Vote buying has shaped much of Philippine politics throughout history. For many politicians, distributing private goods and cultivating patronage to individual supporters is one of the most effective electoral strategies.

While the line between public and private is traditionally blurry, people who are used to this relationship with those who hold positions in government tend to measure politicians’ performance in terms of how much they provide private goods as opposed to broad public goods.
 
But though it may have been prevalent, vote buying has been a serious constraint in the country. Research has shown that practices such as vote buying and political dynasties undermine public service delivery and poverty reduction. How can these practices, which are so deeply embedded in Filipinos’ political way of life, begin to change?

Open insights is the next step to Open Data

Kenneth Abante's picture
One must think of government data like a matchstick; it must be taken out of its box and lit. The first step to generating public trust in a government institution is to show it has nothing to hide. The disclosure of data, or Open Data, is a public-private partnership for solving social issues transparently.
 
However, more than establishing moral authority, Open Data  also gives public institutions deeper insight and understanding into their own operations. Moving a step further, voluntarily disclosing not just data in comma separated values or excel spreadsheets, but insights -- even weaknesses -- to the public, can accelerate change across institutions and society. I say this with a caveat: disclosure should be made with a nuanced message, such as the acknowledgment of data and its limitations, the humility to accept limitations as an agency with scarce time and resources, and the courage to come up with clear steps for implementation. In the Philippines, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima echoes this, noting that “We must be the first to admit our weaknesses.” Open Insights is the next logical step to Open Data.
 

4 concrete ways to move the Philippines’ public-private partnership programs forward

Jesse Ang's picture
Light Rail Transit in Manila, the Philippines
Credit: Ingmar Zahorsky/Flickr

The Philippines has one of the best performing Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programs in Asia. According to the Philippines PPP Center, much more will be done to further improve the country's ambitious PPP program.

Infrastructure building in most countries is driven by the government. China has been the most remarkable infrastructure builder in the world over the last 30 years, and this progress has been driven almost entirely by the government. In the case of the Philippines, government is also in the driver’s seat when it comes to infrastructure development, bringing in the private sector for expertise, capacity, and relevant experience. In most PPPs, project efficiencies increase and sustainability is strengthened with private participation. Though PPPs are not a panacea, and the transactions themselves are complex, the Philippines has chosen to incorporate private sector expertise and resources in various ways. The challenge is to balance public objectives with private need for a return on investment. There has to be appropriate sharing of risks between government and the private sector.

The Return of the Migrants: Do Employers Value their Foreign Work Experience? Guest Post by Paolo Abarcar

This is the first of our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
Return migration is an important channel through which migrant-sending countries stand to benefit from international migration. Experts often cite “brain gain” as its chief benefit: migrants not only bring back their original human capital but also new skills, connections, and experience acquired in foreign countries (see for example IOM 2008, Dayton-Johnson et al. 2009, and this UN report). But whether or not domestic employers in fact value foreign work experience in production processes at home is unclear. Skills learned abroad may be irrelevant. Worse, absence from the local labor market could be detrimental if the skills that employers value depreciate as a migrant spends time abroad. In my job market paper, I examine precisely this question: do employers actually value the foreign work experience of returning migrants?

What El Niño teaches us about climate resilience

Francis Ghesquiere's picture
It was recorded by the Spanish conquistadors, and triggered famines that have been linked to China’s 1901 Boxer Rebellion and even the French revolution.

Named by Peruvian fishermen because of its tendency to appear around Christmastime, El Niño is the planet’s most large-scale and recurring mode of climate variability. Every 2-7 years, a slackening of trade winds that push sun-warmed water across the Pacific contributes to a rise in water temperature across large parts of the ocean. As the heat rises, a global pattern of weather changes ensues, triggering heat waves in many tropical regions and extreme drought or rainfall in others.

The fact that we are undergoing a major El Niño event should cause major concern and requires mobilization now. Already, eight provinces in the Philippines are in a state of emergency due to drought; rice farmers in Vietnam and Thailand have left fields unplanted due to weak rains; and 42,000 people have been displaced by floods in Somalia.

And this is before the event reaches its peak. Meteorologists see a 95% chance of the El Niño lasting into 2016, with its most extreme effects arriving between now and March. Coastal regions of Latin America are braced for major floods; India is dealing with a 14% deficit in the recent monsoon rains; and poor rainfalls could add to insecurity in several of Africa’s fragile states. Indeed, Berkeley Professor Soloman Hsiang has used historical data to demonstrate that the likelihood of new conflict outbreaks in tropical regions doubles from 3% to 6% in an El Niño year.

But despite its thousand-year history, the devastation associated with El Niño is not inevitable. Progress made by many other countries since the last major event, in 1997-98, shows that we can get a grip on its effect – and others caused by climate trends.

Natural Capital Accounting: Going beyond the numbers

Stig Johansson's picture
Guatemala. World Bank

Here are some facts that you might not know: Do these numbers just seem like bits of trivia? In fact, these are all important results that came out of natural capital accounting (NCA) – a system for generating data on natural resources, such as forests, energy and water, which are not included in traditional statistics. NCA follows standards approved by the United Nations to ensure trust, consistency and comparison across time and countries.
 
The results above are among the numerous NCA findings that are being generated every year, with support from a World Bank-led global partnership called Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES). In response to the growing appetite for information on NCA, WAVES has set up a new Knowledge Center bringing together resources on this topic.

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