Saturday, December 19, 2015

“This flies in the face of reason”?

“Since the launch of the country’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) in 2011, the government has approved the construction of 21 coal-fired power projects. This flies in the face of reason. In a country with such abundance of renewable energy from the sun, the wind and the earth, it is madness to keep importing fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, and to delay the inevitable shift to renewables that is already under way.” [How to achieve energy security and restart industrialization, John A. MathewsRoger D. PosadasPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 13th Dec 2015]

Should we be surprised at all given how we lag the world in infrastructure development? Does it have to do with our values – that patriotism presupposes we are an island unto ourselves? For example, we are proud that our BIG Boys control this building block of the Philippine economy? And are likewise proud of our compassion and wouldn’t want Juan de la Cruz to pay higher electricity bills – even during the transition from fossil to RE? And why we can’t transition out of the jeepney?

Yet when all is said and done, we don’t want to be amongst the endangered species Darwin spoke about? This is the 21st century and our worldview has to adapt accordingly?

“Learning from neighbors. First, the renewable energy goals need to be made more ambitious—much more ambitious. For a country of the size of the Philippines, there should be a goal of 10 GW by 2020 and 100 GW by 2025 in renewables capacity. We would expect that these ambitious goals would kick-start an energy revolution that would then become unstoppable. [Mathews, Posadas, op. cit.]

“Next, the government should invite foreign companies to bid for power supply contracts—subject to stringent local content requirements that would kick start a real renewables manufacturing industry in the Philippines. This would help to meet developmental goals—creating manufacturing industries, employment and exports around new energy systems, and relieving the pressure of coal, oil and gas imports on the balance of payments.

“Third, local communities should be encouraged to build their own locally owned and supplied power systems—to break the monopoly of National Power Corp. which has been such a dead hand on the electrification of the Philippines.

“In this way the first hesitant steps taken so far, such as the Bangui and Mindoro wind farms, and the three-phase solar power project at Negros Occidental launched by San Carlos Solar Energy Inc., could be replicated and expanded. The Philippines has abundant renewable energy resources—but they need to be harvested using devices that are becoming central to global competition in the 21st century.

“The renewable energy revolution offers countries like the Philippines a fresh start in achieving goals of industrial development and movement up the ladder of rising incomes. Energy security is a critical element in this process—as clearly understood by China, India and Brazil. While politics in the Philippines fiddles over feed-in tariffs, the rest of world powers ahead with a renewables revolution that promises independence from fossil fuels.”

What chance do we have to learn to adapt to the world around us? We can’t write our own rules; and it applies even to a global behemoth! In other words, no one can live in the past. “A company of our size, international reach and complexity cannot be managed with structures from the past . . .” [The Engineering of Volkswagen’s Aggressive Ambition, Jack Ewing and Graham Bowley, The New York Times, 13th Dec 2015]

“. . . Volkswagen had become a place where subordinates were fearful of contradicting their superiors and were afraid to admit failure. There is a self-righteousness which led down this terrible path . . . ‘We need in the future a climate in which problems aren’t hidden but can be openly communicated to superiors’ . . . VW had this special culture . . . It was like North Korea without labor camps . . .”

But let’s get back to PH. There is good news – but not really? And so how do we learn to appreciate that there is the big picture? For example, “compassion” is not the be-all and end-all. There is such a thing as kindness to a fault?

The government should review the program and implementing guidelines of the P1-billion Agriculture and Fisheries Financing Program, the state-run think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies said Monday.” [PDIS: P1-b agri funding to fail, Gabrielle H. Binaday, The Standard, 14th Dec 2015]

PIDS economists Ma. Piedad Geron and Gilberto Llanto said in a policy note the government should not go back to the old scheme that did not work out in micro-financing before. ‘The foregoing remarks and observations point to one thing: the government may be going back to an old approach that did not work—the past DCPs,’ the authors said.

“As presently formulated, the program guidelines seem to resurrect some of the arrangements under the failed directed credit programs, or DCPs, of the past . . . The P1-billion flexible credit facility aims to help over 1 million farmers and fisherfolk who were non-agrarian reform beneficiaries and engaged in priority commodities identified by the Department of Agriculture in the 20 poorest provinces.”

And so we applaud efforts that meet our standards of “inclusion,” but then again we must recognize that if we can’t connect the dots chances are we will fall short. Nothing operates in a vacuum, so to speak.

“The EIU cited as one of this year’s financial inclusion highlights in the Philippines the signing of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion last July. “The strategy establishes a framework and action plan for the government and the private sector to take a coordinated and systematic approach to the development of a financial system that is accessible and responsive to the needs of the entire population,” it noted.” [PH lands in top 3 on financial inclusion, Ben O. de Vera,Philippine Daily Inquirer13th Dec 2015]

“However, despite the strides made thus far, there remain a number of challenges to financial inclusion in the country, according to the EIU. While the Philippines has been a leader in promoting and creating an enabling environment for financial inclusion, there is still much to be done as only 26 percent of adult Filipinos have savings accounts and only 10.5 percent have access to formal credit . . .

“Also, challenges remain in terms of scaling market innovations, particularly in technology-driven initiatives . . . There is also a chronic need for financial education and consumer-protection initiatives across regulated and nonregulated institutions . . .”

Those are two enormous challenges. Innovation demands much more than financial inclusion – and it starts with an open, progressive, forward-looking mind. (And why the Volkswagen story is instructive in a parochial culture like ours where we value hierarchy, political patronage and oligarchy.) While financial education is optimized – and goes far and wide – when there is a large middle class.

To quote an earlier posting: Our challenge then as now is to “transition to a new stage of consciousness and transform [our] society beyond family bands . . . to [a true] nation state; and for the economy to evolve beyond foraging and horticulture and agriculture to industrialization; and change our power structure and the role of religion” [Reinventing organizations, Frederic Laloux, Nelson Parker, 2014; p. 14] – and move it away from ideology and fundamentalism. (The latter being a continuing declaration from Pope Francis?)

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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