Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Greatness – destiny or fate?

It can't be because that would presuppose dependency? And why Rizal had to create Padre Damaso? And did it [separately] give Marx an excuse to indict the church for being “the opium of the poor”?

Greatness is a creation and is associated with visionaries. And, not surprisingly, they are few and far between. Visionaries demonstrate strong faith and confidence that comes from the efforts they put in knowing where they want to be. And Tatang Sy comes to mind, who despite being wheelchair-bound still likes to do his merchandising chores even after hours. He brought two things that the educational system may want to figure out and teach the Filipino youth, after we failed Rizal: vision and hard work? That to dream does not equate to being a visionary? Visionaries could see their creations before the fact to the surprise of countless others because they proceed with a sense of purpose. Juan Tamad would dream that the guava will fall from the tree and into his waiting mouth? But where is he coming from? And my wife would answer her own question: Either way our instincts are revealed through our lips: (a) “Alam ko na iyan” or (b) “Wala tayong magagawa”. We don't want to be frozen in time because of either: “we know it all” or “it's cast in stone”?

“PHL industries not ready for ASEAN integration, biz leaders warn,” Jovan Cerda, The Philippine Star, 22nd May 2014. “Filipino businessmen are concerned that local businesses might get the short end of the stick once trade liberalization goes full force with the impending integration of economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”

“Johan de Villiers, South Asia regional division head for power systems of Singapore's ABB, added that governments should take on the ‘difficult projects... the ones that make large economic impact’.” [Better approaches said needed to address infrastructure gap, Bettina Faye V. Roc Business World, 23rd May 2014] “Capital requirements for these initiatives, though, cannot be solely undertaken by states, noted Michael Whalen, vice-president of the US government's Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC). ‘These will require foreign direct investments... and that requires sustainable investment environments,’ Mr. Whalen said. ADB's Mr. Groff said that government and private sector resources are not enough to meet even half of an estimated $8-trillion in infrastructure demand by the year 2020. ‘The key here is project structure, innovation, and governance,’ he stressed. ‘We see vested interest masquerading as national interest. We should learn to distinguish between the two.’”

We're not destined for mediocrity – but we certainly can do it to ourselves? And so we worry about “getting the shorter end of the stick” with ASEAN integration – when we seem to be occupied precisely with how to get there?

But aren’t we doing everything yet that should put us in good stead? The fact of the matter is we are doing what our beliefs, if not value system, say we must but “not the vital few”? And a couple of analogies could explain that.

For instance, our economic managers have been reciting a laundry list of what in the private sector would be taken as “recurring operating budget items” like education, health services, etc. to prove that our GDP growth rates are sustainable. But as in the private sector, the question to ask is: where are the capital- or investment-related items that would drive economic output, e.g., infrastructure especially power and strategic industries – or why the JFC’s seven industry winners are crucial except that we’ve taken them for granted?

And another is that of our worldview, as in the Vietnamese worldview versus ours; or put simply, for PHL to catch Vietnam in FDIs, we need an incremental $50 billion-plus. Indeed there are distinctions in perspectives that we have to be careful about. Or as Mr. Groff of ADB says it, “We see vested interest masquerading as national interest. We should learn to distinguish between the two.” The world knows we are an oligopoly and foreigners who would normally be more tactful and diplomatic have learned to call it as they see it? Put another way, if we hope to match Vietnam’s ability to attract FDIs, we have to step up to the plate and make ours a true free market.

“As both the Arroyo and Aquino administrations have not put up adequate number of new power plants within a four- to five-year construction cycle or rehabilitate aging power plants to face increasing demand by industries and an increasing population, the country, particularly Mindanao and the Visayas, is now skating on thin ice, he pointed out.” [Senator paints grim energy shortage in 2015, Mario Casayuran, Manila Bulletin, 24th May 2014]

“Between you and me, we don’t know exactly what’s happening in the energy sector,” he said, adding big investors look 25 years ahead because they put up big factories and they have to get a return of their investments back . . . He also said that government has to put up roads for expensive geothermal exploration projects of domestic and foreign investors who may lose $50 million for such business ventures. ‘That is why we cannot fully utilize our geothermal potentials until government puts up the infrastructure in place. And such expenditures should be in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),’ he added.”

Now the DOE is refuting that. Aren't we a free enterprise? And so we've left the industry to the private sector? [Sounds like the Tea Party?] What a copout! Or is that resurrecting Pontius Pilate? Simply put, if government is patting its back for promoting industry via trade and road shows overseas and developing over 30 industry road maps, where is the road map for the energy sector? All of a sudden government found a model in SMC proposing a new airport? That is not for the public sector to be proud about, it's a major indictment . . . and confirms why our neighbors left us behind? See above re visionaries.

If it is not fate or destiny, is it a miracle that we need? “I fully agree with those who say that we could be the next economic miracle in Asia, because we Catholics know that it would take a miracle from God to turn our nation around and be at par with our ASEAN neighbors . . . ‘Philippines slips in competitiveness.’ That headline immediately tells you that there is something gravely wrong with the economic policies of the Aquino regime.” [We need a miracle to be an economic miracle, SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila, The Philippine Star, 24th May 2014]

“I heard Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima boast on TV that the robust economic growth of the Philippines was due to the acceptance of the good governance policies and leadership of President Aquino . . . Perhaps he has not yet read the front page news of BusinessWorld about our slip in competitiveness rankings, which was quite an embarrassing report coming from the 2014 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) where the Philippines now ranked number 42 out of 60 economies…down by 4 notches from last year’s rank of number 38 out of 60 economies. Now isn’t this piece of news very embarrassing for us Filipinos?”

We can be great but not if we keep doing what we're doing – like the following, culled from news reports and op-ed pieces? “The government has problems doing its business”; “We need a miracle to be an economic miracle”; “The government has yet to address the 'hard parts' of growth – ease of doing business, power and infrastructure investments”; “The high cost of power, regulatory uncertainty or corruption – or some combination of the three . . . will explain why PHL trails Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in foreign direct investments”; “Corruption pays”; “PHL ranked miserably in international trade: 55 in 2013; 57 in 2014”; “Philippines pressed on long-term growth drags”; “NFA: decades of studies and indecisions”.

No comments:

Post a Comment