Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stepping up to the plate II

The pressure to change the former model of education has largely come from the business world . . . Today, when knowledge is available to everyone on the internet, what a person knows matters less than what they can do with what they know . . . As one business executive put it, you can teach new employees content, but you can’t teach them how to think, or ask the right questions.” [Dr. Beth Day Romulo, Manila Bulletin, 18th Apr 2013] And it brings to mind Einstein’s “The value of education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”

And what about the challenge of stepping up to “reality” – especially when it can hurt? In business that is as constant as the air we breathe and why businesspeople have lots of practice in facing reality. For example, defining a problem is fundamental in business – whether it hurts some or it hurts a lot.

If PHL is to get on the fast-track of economic growth and development, sooner than later, we have to step up to reality? Unfortunately, our knee-jerk is: “We don’t have a perfect system but who has?” And so we miss asking the right question. Neither China nor the US or Singapore or Thailand is perfect – but if they have a common denominator, they all attract investments so many times fold compared to the Philippines. And unsurprisingly we're uncompetitive in infrastructure, in investments, in technology, in innovation as well as in developing talents that have the skill-set to develop products and markets. And that is despite our OFW remittances and growing BPO industry. President Aquino has made foreign investors give us a fresh look but our neighbors are not standing still. The evidence: Vietnam and Cambodia have gone ahead in rice farming, for instance. In Indonesia, "foreign direct investment rose 27 percent in the first quarter to a record . . . [of] nearly $7 billion," NY Times, 24th Apr 2013. "Its GDP has expanded at a steady rate of more than 6 percent for the last 3 years." Will Juan de la Cruz step up to the plate?

No ‘growth takeoff’ yet . . . THE PHILIPPINES can hit a “growth takeoff” by increasing investments and diversifying its exports, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said. “The Philippines’ good performance... hasn’t qualified yet as a country undergoing a ‘growth takeoff,’” IMF Senior Economist Jaime Guajardo said in an interview on Monday . . . The Philippines remains one of the countries with the least foreign direct investments in the region but the IMF official cited ongoing government efforts to address the problem.” [Business World, 17th Apr 2013]

THE global competitive index of the Philippines is way far behind the majority of Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) members. This was the scenario presented by Dr. Filemon Uriarte Jr., former executive director of the Asean Foundation and former secretary of the Department of Science and Technology.” [Business Mirror, 13th Apr 2013] Citing the government procurement of advanced technology products, it was ranked last year at 107th place out of the 144 countries worldwide. On the quality of scientific research institutions, the country ranked 102nd; on the availability of scientists and engineers it was at 91st; capacity for innovation at 86th; utility patterns granted per million population at 83rd; university-industry collaboration in R&D at 79th; and company spending on R&D at 58th . . . [I]f the country procures advanced technology products, its innovation ranking would definitely rise. The consequence of the Philippines having poor rankings in competitiveness and poor innovation results is low foreign direct investments . . . [A]nd this leads to low trade and low gross domestic product (GDP) that is below the average Asean GDP of $3,601 in 2011.”

Despite small and medium enterprises (SMEs) dominating businesses in Asia including the Philippines, their contribution to the total economic output has been limited, with the growth of these enterprises not keeping pace with their numbers.” [The Philippine Star, 18th Apr 2013] “The big numbers of small and medium businesses (SMBs) however, don’t fully translate into GDP (gross domestic product) . . . In the Philippines, where most businesses are SMBs, the sector’s share to GDP is only a little over 30 percent.” And from Business World, 22nd Apr 2013, “THE COUNTRY’S small and medium enterprises are hardly ready for the ASEAN Economic Community that will lift trade and other barriers among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 2015, according to the state think-tank.”

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