Economist defends Philippines 'large population'-A A +A
Monday, April 4, 2011
CLARK FREEPORT -- Economist Bernie Villegas defended Monday the country's current population, saying a large populace is an asset and not a liability to a developing country like the Philippines.
Villegas issued the statement before members of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) amid the ongoing debate on Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
He said that from an economic viewpoint, a large population works wonders for the local market.
This same population advantage, he added, was demonstrated in the recent world financial crisis in which Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines (the VIP countries of the Asean) were virtually unaffected.
"A key explanation for the resilience of these three countries is their large domestic markets that partly insulated them from the depressive impact of a shrinking world economy," Villegas said.
He added that in the next 10 to 20 years, countries with large populations such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and others will be the engines of growth, eclipsing the aging market power countries that, with the exception of the United States, are all suffering from the devastating effects of the demographic winter.
Villegas said legislations like the RH bill could be economically counterproductive.
"Another strong argument against population control is the peculiar case of Thailand. Even rescinding from the ongoing political unrest, Thailand's still relatively large population of over 60 million did not enable it to get into the list of the Next Eleven emerging markets that will dominate the global economy. Because of a very aggressive population control program in the last century, Thailand is in serious danger of growing old before becoming rich," Villegas added.
He also urged businessmen in the province to instead focus on helping the government in really addressing the problem of poverty.
He said there have been tried and tested approaches to address the issue in an agricultural country like the Philippines.
Among them, he said, are building farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities; providing micro credit to the poor; developing small and medium-scale enterprises; putting up vocational and technical schools for the out-of-school youth; financing social housing for the poor; and teaming up with the private sector to assist returning overseas Filipino workers in starting sustainable small businesses in which they can invest their savings.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 05, 2011.