Saturday, October 18, 2014

“France is sick . . .”

“. . . and we are facing difficult times. We have no choice but to reform this country,” Emmanuel Macron, France Economy Minister. [Emmanuel Macron of France is the face of the new socialism, Liz Alderman, The New York Times, 7th Oct 2014.] “Still, even as he means to help Mr. Hollande push an ambitions but politically perilous drive to brand France as a country that is open for business and unafraid of globalization, he does not want his country to lose its innate egalitarian Frenchness . . . [H]e pushed the president hard to break with the ‘old socialism,’ helping to draft a so-called Responsibility Pact that increased flexibility in France’s rigid labor market . . . ‘We have to shift the social model from a lot of protections toward loosening bottlenecks in the economy.’ ”

And back in PHL, news items: PH economic team mounts Tokyo roadshowChino Leyco, Manila Bulletin, 5th Oct 2014 . . . Make it official – ToyotaBernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin, 5th Oct 2014 . . . WB downgrades Phl growth outlookTed P. Torres, The Philippine Star, 6th Oct 2014 . . . Competition law: what it is not, Cielito F. Habito, No Free Lunch, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7th Oct 2014 . . . Orchestrating an innovation ecosystem, Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Manila Bulletin, 4th Oct 2014.

Let’s recap them: “PH economic team mounts Tokyo roadshow” . . . but then . . . “Make it official – Toyota” . . . “Toyota Motor Philippines, the country’s largest car company, is taking it with a grain of salt Malacañang’s proposed $600-million automotive industry support fund unless the government will make it official.”

“TMP President Michinobu Sugata told reporters . . . they would like to see such comment being translated into the completion of the long-delayed automotive industry roadmap or the issuance of an executive order . . . [I]t came as a surprise following a long period of silence from the government on the state of the planned roadmap. But while it provides a breath of fresh air, industry players remained skeptical . . . Sugata would like to see such comment being translated into the completion of the roadmap or an EO.”

Is that simply the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? On the one hand we’re working to attract foreign investment yet on the other we’re giving foreign investors “the silent treatment”? Or are we Pinoys, by and large, reform-challenged? Can we learn from France’s socialist government? And it could start from the nation’s leadership and go all the way down to the barangay level, for example? “If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there,”Lewis Carroll [“the pen name of Oxford mathematician, logician, photographer and author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is famous the world over for his fantastic classics (like) "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,” Wikipedia.]

In the absence of “where we want to be” as a nation or of a vision, we will have the blind leading the blind – and out of frustration the leadership is left with little else but invoke authority and exhibit autocracy? “Aquino wants ‘broader picture’ of 2016 landscape,” Christian V. EsguerraPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 7th Oct 2014. Is that scary or what – i.e., are we a banana republic or do we have a demigod? “Coloma said the President ‘would like to continue getting feedback from various stakeholders, especially on what can be done to ensure the continuity and permanence of reforms.’ ”

And somewhere along the line is us – the elite class – and we ourselves are defenders of the status quo? And so we’ve chosen to remain an inward-looking, hierarchical cacique culture and thus our psyche: we are an island unto ourselves? And it is reinforced by the euphemism: “we are pro-poor” and “pro-Filipino,” and must protect local entrepreneurs? And we believe we have the best of both worlds: our enterprises catering to the local market especially the poor, not the foreign market – given we’re uncompetitive in any case? Is that in fact a misuse of brainpower? Consider: in 3-4 months of rigorous training, one can attain a higher level of skill, from “The Power of Mindsets,” Robert Brooks; he’s on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has served as Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital.

Not surprisingly, “As the Fair Competition Act gains ground in the 16th Congress, forces that have traditionally been resisting this game-changing economic measure for well over two decades appear to be training their guns on it again, in and out of Congress. Arguments being raised against it appear to be either based on a flawed grasp of what the proposed law seeks to do or deliberately meant to muddle the issue. Meanwhile, within Congress, quiet efforts are being made to undermine the efficacy of the law should it get enacted.” [Competition law: what it is not, Cielito F. Habito, No Free Lunch, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7th Oct 2014]

Surprise, surprise: WB downgrades Phl growth outlook, Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star, 6th Oct 2014. “The World Bank said growth can be sustained and made more inclusive by pursuing structural reforms and investing more in human and physical capital in the medium term. Key structural reforms include protecting property rights, promoting more competition, and simplifying regulations.”

And are the international institutions ganging up on us? “Last month, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) launched the Creative Productivity Index (CPI) — a new way of rating a country’s capacity for innovation.  Specifically, the CPI measures how a country efficiently converts creativity “inputs” (i.e., knowledge base, skills, and infrastructure) into “outputs” (i.e. patents granted and studies published). Of the 24 mostly Asian economies surveyed, the Philippines ranked a dismal 18th, measuring only a medium capacity for “creative productivity” and hence, a limited ability to ensure long-term economic growth.” [Orchestrating an innovation ecosystem,Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Manila Bulletin, 4th Oct 2014]

France says they are sick, what about PHL?

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