Promises, victory, then the hardest – Manila Bulletin
After all the promises, denunciations, allegations, fake news and real news, rumours, threats, protests, today’s winner will not have the easy six years ahead of him.
The Makati Business Club released a statement last week outlining where we are and what lies ahead. So many businesses have closed shop. The workers lost their jobs. Business owners suffered losses, depleted their capital. Workers exhausted their savings, sank deeper into debt. Many died.
Signs of recovery started to appear but Russia invaded Ukraine and another crisis began. The price of oil jumped, causing a domino effect on freight and on the cost of transport, electricity, food, etc. For related reasons and with similar effects, interest rates are rising and the peso is depreciating. All the sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe and the reaction of Russia, as well as the developments in China, India and the Middle East have made matters worse. With the Philippines dependent on oil and food imports, a hot seat awaits the next occupant of Malacañang.
In the immediate term, the Makati Business Club has pledged to protect or increase production and address supply bottlenecks to cushion rising inflation. In the longer term, its goal is to create a strong, skilled and upwardly mobile workforce. Through the formulation of policies, it seeks to contribute to job creation, improve the skills and productivity of workers, improve working conditions, develop health care and social security and health insurance. unemployment.
To cope with the difficulties of Covid-19, the government distributed cash – ayuda – to the poor and the elderly, sanitary measures even as tax and customs revenues fell, and spent money on the health care and the fight against the pandemic. The banking system has also been encouraged to ease lending and collection policies with the easing of normally tight regulations.
The new administration therefore inherits a weak economy, high public debt, a depreciating peso and prospects for the same.
There will be no magic. Food prices will not go down tomorrow. Not all the unemployed will be employed next Monday. Not much can be done about the price of gasoline and transportation and freight charges, other than the difficult decision to favor jeepney drivers over private vehicle owners, and raise the minimum wage if things get worse.
The new president also needs to get his team together and get organized, learn the inner workings, strategize with Congress, formulate an action plan with a timeline.
Like any leader, our new president must motivate, plan, organize and control if his campaign promises are to be kept. Eliminating corruption and bribery, reducing commodity prices, jobs for all, helping the poor, attracting foreign investment, improving education, etc. were promised by almost all.
Government really has two key tools, fiscal and monetary policy. The first relates to income, expenditure and debt, while the second relates to the money supply and, in our system, currencies. A socio-economic plan is supposed to guide the use of these tools, weapons if you will.
The only way to reduce the price of rice and indeed everything else is to increase production or reduce demand. The first is easier. We have no winters and can grow food all year round. Most Filipinos continue to depend on agriculture, and production can be improved with better seeds, scientific cultivation methods, relaxation of some land reform regulations, revision of tariffs and, in the longer term, crop insurance and irrigation, land use planning to slow if not prevent the conversion of fertile agricultural land into housing estates.
Reforestation would provide employment, especially to truly marginalized cultural communities and, in the medium term, reduce landslides and flooding and produce water for irrigation, electricity and water supply. Commercial forestry with native trees (not foreign mahogany) produces valuable timber like narra, molave, and tindalo or fruits and nuts like mangoes, cashews, and pili.
Mangrove reforestation projects, such as those in Samar and Davao, have not only provided jobs, but also improved fishing and tourism and protected communities from typhoons and wave erosion.
All the presidents, including Quezon, have spoken out against corruption and corruption, but it seems the success has been limited. An example at the top would send a signal, as would locking up a few high-profile violators of any existing procurement law, selling off government assets like procurement, bribery, SALN, decision-making delays, etc
Reducing bureaucracy (for which there is already a law) would not only reduce bribery and corruption, but also make life easier for everyone. Bottlenecks and bureaucratic delays are easily avoided with greasy money. Reducing the number of document requirements, clearances, initials and signatures will not only reduce the opportunities and need for earnings, but will also make life easier for businesses, importers and the general public, including OFWs whose depends on the economy.
Traffic in Metro Manila and Cebu City costs billions not only in gasoline, but even more in lost work hours, production delays, unnecessary vehicle imports, pollution, public works – all these passages superior, underground and aerial. Forget the aggravation and expense incurred by millions of commuters. Efficient public transport systems in our two largest cities and the revival of Luzon’s rail system would be laudable and achievable goals.
Friends who live in rough neighborhoods tell me how peace and order have improved and how drug dealers and drug users have all but disappeared over the past six years. They aren’t too concerned about the EJKs, saying that for the most part those K-ed brought him in. Not the EJKs of course, but the War on Drugs continues in earnest, but with faster administration of offenses and sentences.
Metro Manila is a giant assemblage of informal settler communities that lack adequate sanitation, fire protection, water and electricity, access to transportation and schools, and more. We’ve had housing projects on and off since the 1930s, the most recent being these tenements along the railroad tracks in San Andres Bukid that are not only ugly and barely livable, but also block railroad improvements. How about following the example of Singapore which used the resources of its social security body to build high-rise buildings? They were for rent, not for sale, and as funds became available they were demolished to build taller and better units.
Hopefully, our new leader will be different from Ms. Aquino who said she doesn’t like unsolicited advice. Either way, hope is eternal.
Comments are cordially invited, addressed to [email protected]
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