The New Administration – Manila Standard

“Winning the hearts and minds of the rest of the population behind a viable economic recovery program in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which still remains a distinct threat may prove more difficult”

After an unsuccessful bid for vice president in 2016, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. made a dramatic political comeback this year, winning a landslide victory in the presidential race with his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, garnering only 15 million votes. against his 31 million votes.

There is no doubt that the new CEO’s dominance in this year’s race was the inevitable result of support from the so-called “Strong North” nurtured by his family since the 1960s as well as the mass base of Mindanao from his teammate, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte. , which also beat its closest rival with plenty to spare.

Opinion polls since last October, when those wishing to run for president, vice president, senators and party-list reps filed their nomination certificates, had already put Marcos Jr. in the lead. for the highest elective position.

The May 9 political exercise only confirmed that his pre-election advantage was no fluke.

Marcos Jr. assumes the presidency with no less than 31 million Filipinos behind him.

We can safely assume that the rest of the electorate who voted for the other candidates have now reluctantly accepted the reality of a Marcos Jr. presidency, with the opposition already racking their brains for the winning strategy in the coming elections.

Winning the election may be the easiest part.

Winning the hearts and minds of the rest of the population behind a viable economic recovery program in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which still remains a distinct threat may prove more difficult.

There is no doubt that the country faces a multiplicity of challenges on the economic, political, social and foreign policy fronts that will test the courage of the new administration.

Marcos Jr. has shown he has his priorities in place by assembling a powerful economics team of leading economists from the University of the Philippines.

The new finance secretary, Benjamin Diokno, had been torn from his former position as the big boss of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The Secretary for Economic Planning and Director General of the National Authority for Economy and Development, Arsenio Balisacan, held the same position in the Duterte cabinet.

Felipe Medalla, the head of NEDA under the Ramos administration, now takes the helm of the BSP, while ex-UP president Alfredo Pascual assumes the top job in the trade and industry ministry.

The combined expertise of the four economists will accelerate the implementation of a broad post-pandemic economic program for the next six years, which will likely focus on job creation, resource generation and infrastructure development.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Marcos administration may be able to tap into around 500 billion pesos of investment leads at various stages of readiness to be handed over by the agency.

Among those investment avenues is tech billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite internet service project called Starlink.

Another positive development for the new administration is the recent passage of the amended Civil Service Act which will allow more foreign companies to retain full ownership of their local operations.

We are well aware of the growing public demand, particularly in the public transport sector, that the new administration suspend the excise tax on petroleum products. But experts say that while this would somehow alleviate the heavy burden of higher transport costs and the resulting increase in prices of other consumer goods, it would be counterproductive in the long run. as it would deprive the government of much-needed revenue that can be used for infrastructure and vital social services such as education and health.

Reports indicate that the transport sector is now in the grip of a serious crisis, as many jeepney drivers have stopped practicing as they can no longer earn enough to feed their families.

Motorcyclists who perform delivery services to large online sellers on a daily basis face the same dire situation.

It seems that the Marcos administration would rather give cash assistance or “ayuda” to those affected by the price hike than suspend excise duties on fuel.

This might be the most pragmatic solution that will benefit those who need help the most.

In any case, we hope that the new administration will prioritize aid to sectors affected by high prices.

Likewise, we expect the new set of leaders to intensify their efforts to further facilitate the ease of doing business in order to attract more local and foreign investment which would create more job opportunities for the workforce amid massive job losses at the height of COVID. -19.

Is Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” working?

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to mainland China and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

To commemorate the event, the Hong Kong SAR released a book on “A New Era – Stability, Prosperity, Opportunity” which discussed the experiences and successes of people in the former British colony.

In the foreword to the book, Hong Kong SAR Director General Carrie Lam said that it “not only reflects Hong Kong’s impressive achievements over the past two and a half decades, it also highlights everyone’s eager expectation for a better future”.

The book pointed out that Hong Kong will capitalize on the opportunities presented by the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for the national economic and social development and growth of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area for better integration into China. -any development.

One of the book’s contributors, Laura Cha Shih May-lung, chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) and a veteran of Hong Kong’s financial industry for more than three decades, believes Hong Kong can withstand any challenge. and maintain its status as an international financial centre.

“As a relatively small economy with a population of just over 7 million, Hong Kong would not have become the international financial center it is today without the strong support of the mainland’s continued development,” he said. she declared.

“We will continue to deepen our mutual market access with the mainland and expand the scope of investment products on both sides. In doing so, we can meet the needs of our country and benefit from our integration into national development,” he said. she added.

Sabrina Chao, President of the Baltic and International Maritime Council, said that under the principle of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong retains the common law system and the legal community is one of the advantages that allows the Hong Kong’s shipping industry to flourish.

She called for “combining the mainland’s labor resources with the experience of Hong Kong shipowners for further measures related to the development of the GBA and also for the benefit of the long-term development of the industry.”

Victor Fung, Chairman of Fung Group, and his family have been trading in Hong Kong for over a century.

With in-depth knowledge of Hong Kong’s business development, Mr. Fung believes that closer collaboration with other GBA cities will enable Hong Kong to play a vital role as an orchestrator of the global supply chain. .

Mr. Fung believes that Hong Kong, as a member of the GBA, should take advantage of its global networks, experience in international trade and well-developed service industry, and collaborate with other GBA cities to promote the development of China’s digital economy.

From another perspective, Hong Kong is also seen as finding its own model of democracy, a democracy with Hong Kong characteristics and a “one country, two systems” model.

According to Hong Kong-based Swiss financial and political analyst Angelo Giuliano, “Democracy is a flexible system based on key performance indicators and deliverables.

People need to understand that democracy in the SAR is a work in progress.

Maturity will come with time… In the 25th year of returning to the motherland, Hong Kong is entering a new era of opportunity where it can position itself as a key bridge between the West and the Chinese mainland, enjoying and personifying the best of both worlds. (Email: [email protected])

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