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Philippine economy to grow faster with technology

A research fellow from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) posits that the Philippine economy could grow faster by an estimated 10% if emerging technologies, knowledge and the 4th Industrial Revolution can be utilised to accelerate productivity.

At present and without fully utilising the existing technology, the economy is growing at about 6%, what more if it did.

According to a recent report, if the country can overcome the barriers to adoption and adaptation of the current technology and knowledge to improve productivity, then the country should be growing fast.

In order to take full advantage of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the country needs to hop onto the bandwagon headed for the knowledge and technological frontier, in which the United States and advanced European countries belong to.

The technological frontier being mentioned and tagged as being part of Industry 4.0 include 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Big Data, and cloud computing.

The expert underscored the need for the Philippines to invest more in research and development (R&D).

According to the benchmark of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), about 1% of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is the suggested amount that should be spent for R&D.

The country is spending only about 0.2%, or 1/5 of the suggested 1% of GDP for R&D.

Moreover, there is also a need to address hard and soft infrastructures as well as capacity development of human resources and institutions for they are complementary factors to R&D investments.

Addressing them will improve the country’s readiness for the 4th Industrial Revolution. It must be a whole package instead of being focused too much on one thing, neglecting the fact that they are all connected.

Estonia was cited as an example of a country that managed to use technology considerably across government.

It is trying to use and harness technology and with their economy growing fast, they may have proven that potentials can actually become realised if concerned areas are invested on properly.

The areas that need to be invested on are information and communications technology (ICT), technical areas and soft skills, which are skills that cannot be replaced with automation.

In addition to that, the Philippines should fully maximise its human capital, not just in the local setting but also those who are staying abroad.

The expatriates, together with the science and technology professionals, should be encouraged and enticed to come back to the Philippines and be more involved in projects that will benefit their own country.

But the Government already has some programs in place to address that. On 15 June 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11035 or the “Act Institutionalising the Balik Scientist Program”.

This law would give more incentives to returning Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and engineers who would share their expertise in the country.

A returning scientist can participate in the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Grants-in-Aid research and development made possible by the Balik Scientist Law.

A grant may be provided to the Balik (returning) Scientist and will be released through the institution that will be hosting the implementation of the project.

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