Monday, August 26, 2013

Reality has hit home?

Three years into the Aquino administration, do we see PHL bound to where we are – and always have been? Do we truly want it to be otherwise? I started this blog four years ago and after reading roughly 50 columnists for about a year in order to catch up since my family had relocated overseas 20 years prior. And I continue to read them to keep abreast with current thinking . . . And I’m still discussing the same theme . . . The challenge we face is beyond one or two administrations; it is generational and more precisely, it would take us at least a generation to approximate a developed nation. And that is the simple math economists from international institutions have shared with us, if we were paying attention? Will Roxas or Binay be our savior then – or Marcos? None of the above? Fatalism isn’t faith, and faith comes with works?
“The Philippine state is in the predicament of having to face globalization while at the same time undergoing the painful process of nation-building in a highly diverse society. The weakness of the Philippine state in facing these challenges is causing the pervasive poverty that results in ethnic, socioeconomic and religious tension. To overcome these challenges, there is a need to strengthen the Philippine state and its institutions of governance through bureaucratic, electoral, party, and socioeconomic reforms.” [Rommel C. Banlaoi, Globalization and nation-building in the Philippines, Growth & Governance in Asia, APCSS, 2004, p. 214]
Amen! But where do we start? We like to think that the answer lies in the administration or someone other than ourselves? But ours is a generational problem because Juan de la Cruz is the problem? Those involved in fixing (the hard and soft elements of an enterprise) and growing businesses if not economies, chances are, would recognize that the culprit are enterprises fixated by activity while missing their reason for being? Like the US missing its cherished values, i.e., in the war on terror or the greed that brought the global recession? And, not surprisingly, in my old MNC company, the mantra has been to get the global organization and individual businesses to establish and keep an eye on the "north star" – and we transformed the budget exercise from an activity into a goal-alignment process. And it’s the same simple exercise that my Eastern European friends have embraced since I consulted with them ten years ago. And, not surprisingly, they’ve beaten the competition, the world's biggest consumer products company, in its biggest business in the local market – and why some of their people have joined us. Size doesn't guarantee winning, e.g., Vietnam war? Unfortunately, in PHL, and we’re paying a heavy price, we celebrate oligopoly, not transparent, open, global competition!  
If we don't know where we're going, how would we ever get there? Simply, we must establish where we are, where we want to be and how we will get there? It is the GPS analogy – everyone would be able to drive to a defined location with a GPS, including my wife who has a problem with directions. "Daang matuwid" may have a nice ring to it like "It's more fun in the Philippines" but neither satisfies the GPS analogy. And even President Aquino had to admit that corruption hasn't disappeared. And we won't optimize tourism as an industry with a catchy slogan per se.
What we want is for PHL to be a developed nation! It doesn't start with pursuing an activity, but defining the outcome. A developed nation is a vibrant, confident nation. It can't be one where more than a quarter of the wealth is owned by 50 out of 100 million – i.e., a lopsided economy can't be a vibrant and confident nation? It must be an open, not a closed economy – i.e., we rank poorly in ease of doing business by design? Why is Juan de la Cruz the problem? Is it (a) because he loves his country and rejects what is foreign; or is it really (b) because of our hierarchical system and structure and cacique culture, transparency is not in our DNA – the root of PHL corruption and failed efforts in good governance, e.g., land reform, EPIRA, party-list, etc.?
And so we'd miss even the first turn on the GPS? And we'd not get very far because beyond power, we don't have the roads, the bridges and modern airport to begin with? How do we get 21st century technology? How do we learn innovation? How do we create a strategic and a competitive industry base? And precisely . . . our export receipts are a pittance? And with due respect to our monetary authorities, to manage over $20 billion from OFW remittances is a nice activity, but where is the GPS? And what is media talking about? We’ve been lost for decades? Too bad . . . so sad . . .

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