Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PHL needs the right leadership

Do we need a leader that can tell us that if we are to be successful as an economy, a people and a nation that we have to accept that our assumptions, beliefs and values are behind our actuations? That is not a personal view, but an interpretation of the science of the mind. [Robert Brooks, faculty of Harvard Medical School; he has served as Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital.] That successful endeavors are characterized by individuals deliberately choosing to ask, “What is it that I can do differently to change the situation, rather than wait for others to change first?”

And to change we have to start with examining our assumptions, beliefs and values because we take them for granted – and thus accept our situation as cast in stone? For example, do we believe that human development says that we have potentials [and is the driving force behind my commitment to my Eastern European friends] that we can live up to because men are created equal; that it is not just a proposition advanced by the West but in fact is fundamental to our faith – i.e., we are created to the image and likeness of the Creator?

Unfortunately, the church (despite sensus fidelium) has been a large part of the subservience that defines Juan de la Cruz – that even in this day and age we demonstrate it to the world? For example, we are leader-dependent and that comes with all its ramifications? Thus we can’t see ourselves standing up to authority or anything bigger than us?

Lee Kuan Yew and Mohamad Mahathir stood up to the West. And even Deng Xiaoping: “We need Western money (i.e., investment) and technology.” Translation: we need help now, we are a poor nation; but once we grow and develop we shall be your equal. And as importantly, did they understand a very basic economic principle, i.e., the multiplier effect of investment, and an imperative for a people and a nation to prosper?

Sadly, in our case, we sought preferential trade and quotas – i.e., we were “rent-seeking” from day-one because our cacique masters were lord and we simply ignored the bigger impact of investment on the economy – and human development and poverty alleviation? Now we want to take pride in our concern for the poor? As one economist said, we must be very angry, very, very angry! We started trade and economic development on the wrong foot! And what is criminal is we’re still at it!

“Spatting tycoons stunt Philippine infrastructure growth,” Business Mirror, Bloomberg News, 29th Oct 2014. “Caught in the middle are 22.7 million people who live and work in Metro Manila, where inadequate infrastructure and recurring flooding produce gridlock and stunt the economy.”

Do they care, say, about good governance? Now it appears we would cram in the last two minutes but that is again skin-deep and reflective of ‘Pinoy abilidad’? “A national embarrassment waiting to happen,” Francis Ed Lim, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31st Oct 2014. Sometime in 2015, the Philippines will host the first-ever awarding ceremonies for the winners in the Asean Corporate Governance Scorecard. Top publicly-listed companies (PLCs) in the Asean will be recognized based on their compliance with international best practices, following the OECD corporate governance principles”

“There appears to be a big problem for Philippine PLCs. If the latest Country Reports and Assessments (2013-14) is any indication, none of our PLCs will receive an award. Out of the maximum attainable score of 142 points that a listed Asean company can receive under the ACGS, the highest score that our PLCs obtained is 82.10 compared to Indonesia (82.28), Malaysia (104.12), Singapore (105.0) and Thailand (104.18). There are definitely more than 50 PLCs in the other participating countries that have scored higher than 82.28. This makes it extremely difficult for Philippine PLCs to outscore them, unless they drastically improve their corporate governance practices in a span of less than one year.”

The Asian Tigers were poor and young once. Unfortunately, PHL is yet to demonstrate that? We are utterly underdeveloped that we risk personifying Bondying and Juan Tamad? And now even Myanmar is showing us the way? Singapore-Led Group Wins $1.4 Billion Myanmar Airport Deal,” Kyaw Thu, Bloomberg, 29th Oct 2014. “Upgrading the airport is part of the government’s effort to create jobs in one of Asia’s poorest countries. The U.S. eased sanctions on Myanmar in 2012 and the European Union and Japan wrote off loans owed by the nation, following which Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Unilever Plc announced investments.” And there’s more: “Colgate bought Laser Brand Toothpaste for around $100 million . . . The acquisition is one of the largest investments from an American company in Myanmar since economic sanctions against the country were first eased in 2012, ending the Southeast Asian country’s six decades of isolation under military rule. Colgate follows General ElectricCoca-Cola and Gap Inc., all of whom have restarted operations in Myanmar over the past two years . . .” [Colgate Splashes Out $100m for Myanmar Toothpaste Maker, P.R. Venkat, The Wall Street Journal, 28th Oct 2014]

“If the [PHL] government is relying on the CCT program to have an impact on the problem of poverty in the country, it does not seem to be succeeding. The CCT amounts are seen as dole-outs, temporary assistance extended.” [Editorial: Incomes, not dole-outs, Manila Bulletin, 30th Oct 2014]

“Gov’t needs stronger leadership – ADB official,” Lee C. Chipongian, Manila Bulletin, 26th Oct 2014. Philippine banks need to look beyond the domestic market while government leadership must shift to a higher gear to support local businesses and domestic financial institutions to become big, regional players, particularly in Asean, according to an official of the Asian Development Bank.”

Translation: Stop championing your cacique masters and being inward-looking. They are responsible for your failures in human development. And you are poor because of that! 

And echoed the IMF: “IMF says Phl should focus on key structural reforms,” Kathleen A. Martin, The Philippine Star, 27th Oct 2014. “The story of the Philippines has improved in the last 10 years and something very striking is that growth has been domestic-led . . . the country still lags behind other economies in Asia in terms of investments, infrastructure, and even in competitiveness.”

Translation: Same as above!

“Build on PHL’s competitive edge,” Bianca Cuaresma, Business Mirror, 26th Oct 2014. “As you all know Philippines has done well in the last two to three years. It’s not the first time that the Philippines has grown fast . . . [W]e had fast growth in the Ramos years, as well but the last few years we have seen impressive growth. So the question everybody asks is, can the Philippines sustain this growth going forward and what do we need to do?”

“So with your population and macro stability, you have the opportunity to grow faster. You have natural resources, you have human capital—the young people—business-process outsourcing, English-speaking young people. You have good prospects in the service sector in Asia and globally. You have 7,107 islands [such that] tourism should be a no-brainer for the Philippines.” Left unsaid is: But you’re still poor? Why?

Translation: Same as above!

“I realize it is difficult for government to go against private vested interests. I bumped into Dick Gordon . . . and got an earful on why this is so. He recalled what happened to Subic when ICTSI used its influence on the FVR administration to block the entry of Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa.” [Santa Claus stuck in Manila port, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, Boo Chanco, The Philippine Star, 27th Oct 2014]

“That, folks, is rent seeking by an entrenched vested interest allowed by a government that had been captured by elements of the same social elite behind our country’s inability to progress today. And to think it happened under FVR, supposedly the best President we have had in recent memory…”

Translation: Same as above!

Do we sound like a broken record? That’s the point, we’ve been like a broken record for decades . . .

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