WE HAVE LITTLE DOUBT that the Philippines will still exhibit dragon-like economic growth next to China -as Asia’s best.
The recent 2nd quarter GDP growth report of 6.5%, for instance, augurs well that at least a 6.8% annual 2017 GDP growth rate is achievable.
But even President Noy Aquino’s very impressive economic performance failed to make a dent in the poverty situation in the nation with 25% still within the poverty line. Inclusive growth has eluded us.
The economic structure of the nation is to blame. There is just so much power, capital and land concentrated on the few who are rich and too little on the many who are poor. Such that a 1% GDP growth only impacts 1% increase in the per capita income of the poorer Juan de la Cruzes.
Many of the country’s top billionaires are already among the world’s richest. Our poor are often times as poor as a house rat.
What can be done?
Stop the smuggling of rice, garlic and other agricultural commodities that kill the welfare of our local farmers. Continue the zero irrigation fee for farmers. But more than that- pass the crop insurance bill initiated by Rep Arthur Yap of the Third District.
We are a climate change-plagued country- rich in typhoons, El Nino and earthquakes- one of the most vulnerable in the world. The rural growers, fisher folks, and others are without shield from Mother Nature.
Many of the disaster victims – by the way-have not yet been fully rehabilitated yet- cowering in fear for the next natural catastrophe to befall them
Moreover, much of the produce from land and sea are wasted (30%) due to lack of farm to market roads, warehouses, and storage facilities. Many of them are at the mercy of the rich traders who lend them usurious interest rates for loans and then monopolize the purchase of their supply and dictate consumer prices of basic edible goods.
The PPP-Public Private Partnership -has been redubbed “Power Point Presentation” for the lack of successfully -finished projects despite the many years of talking business investors. Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez wants a reverse PPP- where the government will build and the private sector will operate and pay the government for the usage. Let us see them walk the talk.
Let them pass the core of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program so that first the lower-paid workers who comprise much of the 40% tax paying Filipinos will be taxed less and their consuming power improved. Tax the rich higher -those who milk the land and spend their dollars abroad or stash them in safer havens away from the BIR and the AMLA.
The Comprehensive Tax Reform Program is the lynchpin of the government “Build Build and Build” program designed by the government to help fund the country to a Golden Age of infrastructure. By the end of the Duterte administration, P12-Trillion worth of infrastructure shall have been built.
Not only will these create a lot of blue-collar jobs but will bring prosperity to the countryside as many of the infrastructure projects spread into the provinces. Moreover, better infrastructure heightens the chance of Juan de la Cruz to find a job as foreign investors will be looking our way for their business expansion.
Complement the Conditional Cash Transfer with free meals, transportation and school supplies for public school children if we are serious about improving our social capital.
Implement seriously the National Land Use -still to be minted- so that the indigenous people and illegal settlers will finally have an orchestrated plan for their welfare. Use government land for socio-economic welfare activities and mass housing. Free agricultural land as collateral from a timid bank- anxious about the legal titling of our lands used as collateral.
Mandate strictly the banks to give loans to SMEs with severe pain of penalties and even license confiscation instead of the usual slap on the wrist penalties for violations. Jail economic saboteurs, cybercriminals and white collar crooks who raid their corporations to death.
Improve the justice system -whose ineptness and corruption- penalizing poor the most by increasing the national budget allocation for the Judiciary and the five pillars of justice.
Improve the peace and order situation in the country with a lasting peace accord with the Reds and the Muslim brothers so that tourism and Big Business will be a regular sight in many neglected sitios in the country.
Oh, the blasted traffic. Manila is losing billions in lost business by the horrendous traffic situation in the metropolis. Cebu is getting worse, too. Commuters and wage earners are also suffering from loss of productivity and their health condition is punished by added stress and bad pollution.
Our internet is atrocious and this presents an impediment for the BPO industry from rising in the next wave of city candidates. Such an opportunity lost for the many jobless graduates.
What about power? One of Asia’s most expensive drives away investors who would have put up the bricks and mortars for business and hire Filipinos. Is it within the budget of the National Government to offer some power subsidy for the rural folks and labor-intensive firms?
Finally, we cannot continue to oust socially-committed social workers like the former cabinet secretaries like Gina Lopez of the DENR and Judy Taguiwalo of the DSWD as mercilessly done in by the Commission on Appointments.
Gina stood up for the common man trampled by the excesses of some irresponsible miners while Judy stood against legislators who wanted to dictate to her where the social funds of the country should be allocated to.
That they have lost their positions in government is a sad commentary that there are forces out there- allied with the status quo- that will militate against equalizing and leveling the playing field and give the poor a fighting chance to improve their lot in this inverted pyramid of a society.
We need to improve both the quantitative and qualitative makeup of our people – the lower 80% of the social structure to make our proud economic growth inclusive and truly Pro-Filipino. Definitely. absolutely.
For comments: email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com