Sunday, November 2, 2014

Organized confusion II

It explains why there are winners and there are losers. And the problem with losers is losing has defined their normal. And we don’t want PHL to be defined as a loser? “Business groups warn of negative signal from re-bidding road PPP,” Chrisee J. V. Dela Paz, Business World, 23rd Oct 2014. “ ‘We need infrastructure badly and delaying bidding processes by changing or not adhering to bidding rules is bad news and will drive away investors,’ Henry J. Schumacher, vice-president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said in a text message.”

“Additionally, we believe that the winner should be the company that can build and operate the infrastructure at the lowest cost and not the company that provides the government with the highest ‘income’. In the end, Juan de la Cruz will have to pay the higher price.”

“John D. Forbes, senior adviser of American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, shared this view, saying separately via text: ‘Foreign investors expect bid rules to be followed very closely. Second, the country needs better roads such as CALAX to be built yesterday. Thus, delay of CALAX and not following PPP rules strictly are worrisome. There are three business missions from the US in town this week, and the executive director of the PPP Center was in the US on a road show. The integrity of the bidding process should be the paramount concern and not the total ‘offer’ to the government.’ ”

Is more road shows the answer? “PHL officials to woo investors in US road show,” D.E.D. Saclag, Business World, 22nd Oct 2014. “THE GOVERNMENT is staging a road show in a number of key cities in the United States to attract American investors to do business in the Philippines, according to a statement from the central bank’s Investor Relations Office (IRO).”

But against what backdrop are we doing the road show? “PBC calls for urgent gov’t action on 8 areas,” Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin, 23rd 2014. “The 40th Philippine Business Conference (PBC) has approved an 8-point recommendation highlighted by energy, power, human resource, port congestion, transport infrastructure, ASEAN integration and agriculture as critical areas that require immediate government action.”

And . . . “Can we ever get serious on corruption (?),” DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco , The Philippine Star, 24th Oct 2014. “Corruption is in the air… suffocating us so. It is depressing that almost for sure, after all the dirty linen has been aired, no big politician is going to jail soon. Indeed, we have not found any biggie guilty enough to go to jail all these years.”

“What happened in the last 50 years? We are now almost at the bottom of the barrel. Our senators are no longer of the highest caliber.”

Is it also about incoherence? “CSW, coordination and coherence,” Cielito F. HabitoNo Free LunchPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 21st Oct 2014.“CSW was an acronym all too familiar to those of us who worked in the Cabinet of President Fidel V. Ramos in the 1990s . . . ‘Completed Staff Work’ was something the former General Ramos brought from his military background, and a standard that, as president, he later held his officials to in leading the government and the entire country . . . All of us in his Cabinet knew what it meant. Getting a document marked with those letters back from the president amounted to a rebuke, essentially conveying that ‘you haven’t done enough homework’ or ‘you need to coordinate further with other officials concerned.’ ”

“And when disagreements arose, he forced his Cabinet to a quick consensus. There is a small meeting room in Malacañang where he made disagreeing Cabinet members meet to find common ground. He later revealed one of his ‘secrets’: he would instruct Palace staff to switch off the air-conditioning in that room so that the discomfort would lead the protagonists to reach agreement quickly. His methods were tough, but they sure made for a coherent government—and the country was the better for it.”

When the elite class and plutocracy rule the nation, organized confusion is what it gets? Because it’s all about me and myself – community sense and the common good being alien?

Or is it plain, old wishy-washy? “CALAX and P-Noy’s wishy-washy decision,” SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila, The Philippine Star, 25th Oct 2014.

Or does it have as much to do with the rule of law or the lack of it in PHL? “[A] country that stubbornly refuses to follow its own rules will never achieve any of its objectives or live up to its potential. Even if an investor understands upfront that the rules will not be followed, there is no consistency in the way they are violated; there are no ‘rules for not following those other rules,’ so to speak. That is too big a risk factor for most sensible investors to accept, and so they stay away . . . And they will continue to do so until the people in this country accept that they must demand better of themselves and the institutions they have created.” [ben.kritz@manilatimes.netEminence front, Manila Times, 24th Oct 2014]

We must deliberately want to raise the bar – for PHL and its future and that of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The force of mediocrity can indeed be strong and drag enterprises, economies and nations down?

[And my wife just confirmed how the PHL system doesn’t work; and she’s not a happy camper. Consider: do we think Thailand is losing its attraction to investors and visitors? For our annual trip to Asia, my wife made a couple of reservations via the internet from our home in Connecticut. One was for a US hotel chain that just opened a new facility in Bangkok. And the other, with American Airlines (AA) for our flights: Manila/Bangkok/Manila. She had already done our NY/Manila/NY flights. And typically, once in Manila, we would visit places. The hotel reservation happened in a flash. But the flights were a nightmare: AA confirmed the reservations but with a caveat; because we’re flying from Manila, she was told that she had to buy the tickets in Manila. She had to request a brother to do the errand; and he said my wife had to pay Philippine travel taxes despite our US passports, with photos and all, and in cash unless he used my wife’s credit card. One could only surmise our Finance officials are indeed keen to collect taxes like they wanted from European airlines? And it’s supposed to be “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The left hand simply doesn’t know what the right hand is doing? But my wife had a more fundamental question: how third-world do we want to be? We may be the outsourcing capital of the world yet we remain third-world? Is it a surprise then PPP has proved a bane not yet a boon to PHL economy? Keep it simple, stupid?]

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