Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Integrity . . . and . . . Execution

The MAP must be congratulated for pushing forward with its efforts to create a culture of integrity and execution via its private-public partnership initiative (Business World, Jun 28). It has effectively created a ‘shadow-ombudsman network’ to monitor the progress of the Aquino administration in its fight against corruption and, as importantly, to improve the country’s business environment? And thus attract and raise our investments to competitive levels – and give us access to technology and innovation, and drive people, product and market development? [But the neighbors are crooks? Precisely – great competitors exploit, not embrace the weakness of competition? It’s called ‘the killer instinct’ – and is valued, i.e., winning fair and square is what integrity is about?]

Four other articles (from The Philippine Star) ought to be highlighted: (a) Developing countries take lead (in renewable energy); (b) PHL seeks rich countries’ help in promoting renewable energy; (c) UP professor clarifies value of ODA; and (d) When less is more (on the economic provisions of the Constitution). These pieces are interrelated and bring to life the challenges to our frail economy – or why we’ve faced them for decades?

The cost and the unreliability of power is one of the biggest if not the biggest barrier to our development? But it appears there is good news down the road? “The Philippines could be considered one of the world leaders in renewable energy, with more than 30 percent of its power generation coming from renewable resources . . . The Renewable Energy Act passed in 2008 calls for new support mechanisms, including a feed-in-tariff and a renewable portfolio standard, which are expected to be implemented in the next months. Additionally, the Philippine’s Department of Energy launched the updated National Renewable Energy Plan this month, which aims to triple renewable energy supply by 2030.” (Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star, Jun 29)

But we can’t go it alone and must seek help from rich countries – yet our actuations say otherwise? Thus the UP professor (The Philippine Star, Jun 29) reminds us: “The Philippines is at the losing end . . . ODA projects coming in the Philippines have been dwindling since 2001 to the present . . . and cancellation of ODA-funded projects would affect the “palatability” or how other countries regard the Philippines.” And that must be in reference to NAIA 3, ZTE, Ro-Ro ports deal, North Rail, Laguna Lake rehab, etc.? It appears we simply love to shoot ourselves in the foot?

Is it our psyche – we simply complicate instead of simplify things? From our Constitution to the bureaucracy and red tape AmCham raised, and beyond? “There are times when less is more. The less said, the more flexible, the better is the result. The more said, the greater the probability of mistakes that lead to unwanted results”, writes Gerardo P. Sicat, discussing our Constitution (The Philippine Star, Jun 29). “Very few constitutions have detailed statements about the role of the state in economic matters or in the control of resources to be used in production. The Philippine constitution is exceptional in that it has these details . . . Among all the East Asian neighbors – ASEAN members, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. There are no economic provisions stated in their constitutional document. They leave economic issues unsaid, or unspecified.”

Complexity breeds not only inefficiency and even worse, corruption? While simple sharpens focus, and drives efficiency and execution? Of course, simple does not mean dumb but smart? It appears we, Filipinos, equate complex with smart? So did the Pharisees and scribes? [Our kind hearts whisper ‘to include’ not ‘to prioritize’?]

Before the writer flew back to New York, like he always does, he shared with his Eastern European friends what they have labeled ‘tricks of the trade’. A couple of them were still hurting from the put-down from the writer, so he explained: “The bigger we become, the simpler it must be – we are not tested for the complexity of our formulations but for their effectiveness and impact. We want market share, we want volume, we want investment spending, we want margins – and together they give us healthy profits, thus competitive advantage, that will sustain geographic expansion and growth. Try that with complex and we won’t even get to first base – because it will leave us high and dry in our perch?”

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