Sunday, June 5, 2011

People not structure deliver result

It is encouraging given where we are as an economy and a nation that the Aquino administration has made its roadmap official with the issuance of EO 43. It appears the administration’s directions are not incompatible with Arangkada Philippines? And given it is a broad program there are many pieces to it. The reality is people not structure deliver result. And that remains our challenge? And it means focusing on outcomes not activities? We can’t afford more bureaucracy – where an activity becomes ‘the be all and the end all’? And to paraphrase former NEDA chief Dr Sixto K Rojas, we’ve tried every trick in the book. What we need is new thinking. For example, the administration appears serious about fighting corruption – thus must focus on outcomes not activities? And it means passing the Caesar’s wife’s test across the board? It is an uphill battle since in our culture relationship trumps principle? We don’t need another manifesto that says we are committed to fighting corruption? The test of the pudding is in the eating?

And Arangkada Philippines ought to be up there simply because there is no other initiative that captures our pressing need in a more straightforward manner? We need a substantial bump in our national income and that means we have to pour investments in a few strategic industries that can bring this about? Of course, the iceberg could be a monstrosity below the waterline – and here is where individual pet projects and vested interests would fight to get on the train? And it is here where leadership is called for. For instance, there are very basic elements that must be put in place to get investors committed to the administration’s roadmap and so there ought not to be any equivocation in this respect. And again, Arangkada Philippines provides guidance?

Reports Business Mirror, May 30th: “With good governance and anticorruption as overarching theme, the plan has three broad strategies. First is a high and sustained economic growth, which provides productive and decent employment opportunities. The second strategy is provision of equal access to development opportunities across geographic areas and across different income and social spectrum, which will ensure that economic growth and opportunities translate to poverty reduction. Thirdly, the plan will push for the implementation of effective and responsive social safety nets in order to assist those who will not be able to catch up by the character of a rapid economic growth,” the National Economic and Development Authority said in a statement. “The government’s targets are anchored on the 16-point agenda of the President, which he disclosed during the election campaign in 2010, as well as the country’s commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015”.

And among the 16-point agenda would be: poverty, health care, education, housing, land distribution and acquisition. Clearly, while the government is driving trade and industry in order to generate economic output, it has to spend for many of these critical initiatives? The administration does not have sufficient means to cover all these initiatives to the level that would address our issues? Inclusive means generating the positive outcomes from these initiatives – not merely a laundry list? We don’t need to adhere to 300 tenets – but the Great Commandments? Of course in the global competitive arena they talk of Pareto’s Principle because he developed an econometric model. Amazingly, great competitors – like Apple or Steve Jobs – swear by it yet countless pay lip service?

Likewise it is imperative that we take political patronage out of the equation and again, it demands leadership? The question we have to ask ourselves is not who gets the spoils from the administration’s roadmap; it is what are the vital few initiatives that will give us the biggest bang for the buck so that they are sustainable? In short, the priority ought to be initiatives that will be sustainable over the short- to medium-term . . . to lift us ‘above water’ and then we can deal with the rest, but still on a smartly prioritized basis? For instance, we still have the NAIA 3 issue yet have added the Laguna Lake rehab, the Ro-Ro ports deal and SCTEX? And as we have seen PPP-driven projects don’t get off the ground on time? And so are the strategic projects in Arangkada Philippines?

Leadership is focused on the outcome beyond the activity?

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