Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stream of consciousness . . . Gearing for AEC

Wikipedia: “It is a narrative device used in literature “to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind. Another phrase for it is “interior monologue.” The term "Stream of Consciousness" was coined by philosopher and psychologist William James in The Principles of Psychology (1890): “consciousness, then, does not appear to itself as chopped up in bits ... it is nothing joined; it flows . . . In stream of consciousness the speaker's thought processes are more often depicted as overheard in the mind (or addressed to oneself); it is primarily a fictional device.”

Is PHL ready for Asean integration? “House Speaker sees PHL ready for Asean integration.” [Business Mirror, 30th Dec 2013]

“Earlier, President Aquino said these economic bills should be prioritized to help the government to attract more foreign direct investments and sustain the country’s robust economic growth, as well as to fight corruption. [Belmonte] said: We have a very long list of economic bills, and we are really trying to cut it down to a realistic level.” [A]mong these bills are the priority bills of President Aquino, such as the Cabotage law, the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill and the Land Administration Reform bill.”

“Moreover, the House leader said the country’s global competitiveness should also be supported by the private sector . . . “Greater competitiveness will allow us to attract the much-needed investments that will create many jobs and opportunities for our people.” This is why, he said, the public and private sectors should work together in establishing the right set of policies and laws that will impact upon key socioeconomic areas.”

“As the House leader elaborated on the Asean goal to establish itself as “a single market and production base with free movement of goods, services, labor and capital by 2015,” he, however, said this will be an occasion for fresh opportunities, as well as challenges. “To enable our country to attract more foreign direct investments, I continue to make representations to discuss possible amendments to the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution. I firmly believe that relaxing the provisions on ownership of land, utilities, educational institutions and mass media will bring in investments that will create much-needed jobs,” he said.”

What the Business Mirror article confirms is that while the Indonesians have gone ahead with specific initiatives to attract investors, we are yet to get to first base still held by our stream of consciousness? With due respect to President Aquino, we are lucky that Speaker Belmonte is farther down the pike in his thinking. But the president is right; the economic bills should be prioritized.

But we need tangible interventions and initiatives to flesh that out. For example, we need to zero in on establishing investment-level goals otherwise all the talk would just be that, talk? Haven’t we talked ad infinitum about raising foreign direct investments, for instance? What levels must we set to generate a major bump in economic output and thus raise our average income (or GDP per capita) of $4,500? Who will do what, when, where and how – will we get there?

Competitiveness is beyond policy or competition policies and laws. To leapfrog our efforts, we better dig up the JFC’s seven industry winners. Because for PHL to write a competitiveness policy with very little experience in regional or global competition, we would again be mired in the legalese – but the test of pudding is in the eating? Don't we have tons of policies and laws yet we’ve remained deficient – very deficient, in fact – in the rule of law?

Put another way, we should pull out all the stops and support an intervention like the JFC’s seven industry winner – which apparently is a product of transparency, i.e., a cross-section of society was involved in its crafting? At this point, that is the quickest way for PHL to learn the ropes of regional if not global competition. We can’t wait for 32 or 50 industries to move from the roadmap phase to actually producing and marketing products in the region. In the private sector, it is called test marketing – and from where they learn how to fine tune their business plans.

We are not crafting a dissertation that may never see the light of day in the real world, we are putting together an actionable plan that will focus Juan de la Cruz on the building blocks of an economy, which we've failed to do over several decades? For example, energy is fundamental to an economic activity and thus must be given prominence. We can't just say we must prioritize; we must spell out our version of the two Great Commandments. That is the acid test of whether we indeed successfully prioritized our economic development initiatives. Simply put, if we were in the private sector, we are not drafting the corporation's by-laws but are developing the business model. And the simpler the better; because the key is to focus everyone on the strategy – and is a straightforward communication that empowers the people to execute accordingly.

For example, Warren Buffett would simply say it as “buy low and sell high.” In many globally successful enterprises, it is “innovation, innovation, innovation.” Which for PHL could translate to: “PHL: competitive in investment, infrastructure and industry.” Why? Those are the three very critical areas where we lag the region – and we can use the discipline of keeping our eye on the ball. And how could we flesh that out? Whether it is the Constitution or oligarchy that is responsible for our pathetic investment levels, we must turn it upside-down. And the same must apply in infrastructure development – which we must accelerate – and in industry – where we must focus on the vital few where we could attain global competitiveness.

Our biggest stumbling block is we've remained an underdeveloped economy for so long and don't have a track record in the pursuit of the common good? The evidence: everyone has his priority initiative, a sure formula for disaster, as in the outcome of crab mentality?

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