Despite a consistent growth in the country’s gross domestic production (GDP) in the last 30 years, labor productivity has remained low, he said.
Despite an average annual GDP growth of 3.9 percent from 2000 to 2010, poverty incidence in the country increased from 24 percent to 26 percent, according to Neeraj Jain, ADB country director for the Philippines.
Two saving factors of the Philippine economy, said Usui, are remittances from overseas Filipino workers and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), where Cebu is a major player.
Usui recommended that the country consider running on “two legs” – the BPO services sector and a more traditional sector of manufacturing and industry as a more sustainable combination that would translate to more jobs and alleviate poverty.
The BPO sector is the Philippine’s “star” performer, making the country a global destination, but it can’t remain with voice-based services and has to move up to higher-value services. However, this requires workers with college degrees and skills.