Gerardo P. Sicat: The Economist With a Vision

Dr. Gerardo P. Sicat‘s eminent career as an economist and a public servant began in 1970 when he was appointed to a Cabinet position as Chairman of the National Economic Council. He was subsequently appointed as the first Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and concurrent Minister of Economic Planning. He served in this capacity until July 1981.

Known for his insights and ideas that were considered ahead of his times, Sicat’s 11-year service in government as chief economic planner was marked by a vigorous promotion of sound macroeconomic management, economic reforms and preparations for the national development plan. Largely through his leadership, the Philippine economy experienced unprecedented growth despite worldwide turbulence caused by various economic shocks. He was also instrumental in forging stronger regional economic ties as he headed the Philippine delegations to the ASEAN Economic Ministers from 1975 to 1981. The ASEAN initiated major economic cooperation programs during this period.

Considered the father of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), he suggested the founding of the Institute in 1977 as a research arm of the government that would assist decisionmakers in analyzing policy issues and in promoting freer debate of socioeconomic concerns. He provided the Institute with the guidance and inspiration that shaped its character and thrust as an independent and credible research institute.

Amid his numerous responsibilities, Sicat always found time to write. He was editor of the Philipine Economic Journal from 1965 to 1970 and wrote the widely-used textbook, Economics, in the early 1980s while he was Chairman of the Philippine National Bank. His heart and mind also stayed close to the academic world where he served as a Regent at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) for more than ten years, from 1971 to 1983, spanning the university presidencies of Salvador Lopez, O.D. Corpuz, and Edgardo Angara.

He was likewise an ardent supporter of the UP School of Economics where he established a fund, supported by the royalties earned from his textbook, to award the best undergraduate papers in Economics.

He also assisted in many institution-building projects during his service in government. Besides the establishment of the PIDS, he played a pivotal role in establishing the U.P. in the Visayas (sited in Miag-ao, Iloilo) as part of the UP System of campuses, in having a building constructed to house the Philippine Social Science Council in Diliman, Quezon City, in obtaining funds for the construction of the School of Economics’ building and library, and in setting up the Philippine Center for Economic Development (PCED).

After his government stint, he joined the World Bank where he served in several positions and worked in three major areas, namely, development research, operations, and operational evaluation. His work dealt with related issues of tax reform and incentives, value-added taxation, structural adjustment programs, financial restructuring, and privatization. His stint at the World Bank gave him the opportunity to contribute to the discussion of adjustment and development issues of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Dr. Sicat was born in 1935 in San Fernando, Pampanga and grew up in Manila during World War II. He is a product of the Philippine public school system from grade one to the university. He earned three degrees from the University of the Philippines (UP): B.S.F.S (cum laude), 1957; A.B. (cum laude), 1958; and M.A. in Economics, 1958. Scholarship grants by the Rockefeller and Fulbright Foundations helped him earn his Ph.D in Economics in 1963 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

His early professional career started at the U.P. as assistant professor of economics and subsequently as program director of the UP-Wisconsin Program in Development Economics. He rose from the ranks to become Professor of Economics in 1968 where his writings on industrial policy studies caught national attention.

Dr. Sicat is married to Dr. Loretta Makasiar Sicat whose educational credentials match his. After living with their five children in Washington, D.C. for 13 years, Dr. Sicat will retire on November 1, 1997 from the World Bank. He intends to come back to the Philippines and continue working on development issues and to enjoy life much more. After all, what more can one wish for? All five children are now professionals except for the youngest who is still in his second year of university study. He and Mrs. Sicat are also blessed with five grandchildren.

And who knows, he might find more time to document his rich experiences and write down his insights on a wide spectrum of development issues for the benefit of the young generation of the next millennium.

– PIDS Research News (PIDS Digest September 1997)