Thursday, March 10, 2016

Learning Nation Building from “Kids Astronomy”

“It is true that there are only eight planets. However, the Solar System is made up of over 100 worlds that are every bit as fascinating. Some of these minor planets, and moons are actually larger than the planet Mercury.” []

That is a better way to say what this blog has said a few times: Keep it simple, stupid! If kids can learn the solar system using such simple terms, what about a simpler way to pursue nation-building?

“BOI sets review of MVDP,” Bernie Magkilat, 6th Mar 2016. Hopefully the BOI knows about KISS? The blog has talked about global companies. It is not uncommon for MNCs to cover over 200 markets or countries and have 100 subsidiaries and over 200 brands. Yet it is acknowledged that they are more efficient and effective and productive than, say, the public sector and why they are used as benchmarks.

It is thus encouraging to read news reports that go like this: “DTI readies perks for key sectors,” Amy R. RemoPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 7th Mar 2016. “THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry is preparing incentive packages aimed at accelerating the growth of high-impact industries like shipbuilding and aerospace.”

Instead of talking about 40 or 32 roadmaps it appears we are now talking of key sectors. In the old days or before we had computers or laptops, in inventory management, they had the ABC classification – fast-moving, slow-moving and the in-betweens. Putting industries into similar buckets would allow the DTI to focus their efforts accordingly. For example, the CARS program’s “contribution to gross domestic product was estimated at about 1.7 percent.”

“Such packages [for key industry sectors] will likely be similar to the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program, under which P27 billion in incentives were made available to qualified assemblers to boost the automotive and parts manufacturing industries, explained Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr.

“Under Executive Order 182, the CARS program will provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for assemblers that can produce 200,000 units of a single model over a six-year period.

“If successful, the CARS program is expected to attract more than P27 billion in new parts manufacturing investments; produce at least 600,000 vehicles; generate some 200,000 new jobs; and generate a total economic activity estimated to be worth P300 billion. The resulting contribution to gross domestic product was estimated at about 1.7 percent.

“In an interview with the Inquirer, Cristobal said the DTI was looking at other sectors that may warrant a similar incentive program, including shipbuilding and aerospace.”

The solar system is an ecosystem – and people are awed by the wonders of nature despite devastating storms. And in the Philippines we even monetized it with “It’s more fun in the Philippines” – despite the inadequacies in our infrastructure. 

In pursuing nation-building, we likewise must create an ecosystem. Or what is called the “big picture.” To this day we have been conditioned to focus on monetary and fiscal policies and their impact on GDP growth. As this blog has pointed out, in an underdeveloped economy like PH, we need to look beyond this narrow set of metrics. And indeed reality has set in. The international institutions have recently confirmed that growth alone will not solve poverty in the Philippines.

Simply put, like the solar system, nation building may have over 100 worlds but its emphasis must be on its “eight planets.” 

Crab mentality has brought this country to a halt for the longest time. And to add insult to injury, pseudo-Christian dogmas have been taken as gospel truth – when what it was simply is to hide a culture of impunity behind the skirts of the church? That was the genius of Rizal. He saw through the fraud.

Consider: Political dynasties hid behind family values. Paternalism behind charity. Parochialism behind love of country. Crony capitalism and oligarchy behind investment. 

What is the common denominator? “I, me and myself” – the sense of community and the common good be damned!

Graft and corruption permeate all levels of public life . . . Perhaps in no other country in South Asia is political dishonesty so widely recognized, accepted and talked about as a part of the political game . . .” [“The Philippines’ ‘buwaya problem,’ Solita Collas-Monsod, Get Real, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5th Mar 2016]

In a recent posting, the blog discussed an ecosystem: “Sadly, because of pervasive poverty, we like to believe that fighting poverty is our nirvana. Until we realized that poverty comes from the absence of jobs! But where do jobs come from? They come from a sustainable and competitive economy – which would characterize a developed and wealthy economy.

“Aside from structure, what other elements are imperative if we are to erect a wealthy economy – recognizing that we need a leadership that can articulate a sense of purpose and embrace its requisite values – and edify Juan de la Cruz? We all know the importance of investment or FDI. And beyond investment – in order to attain competitive advantage – we need technology and innovation as well as people, product, supply chain and market development. Marketable products are what make an economic undertaking sustainable.

“And these elements don’t pour like manna from heaven. They demand a platform that’s derived from good governance – committed to community and the common good. And the platform is one that provides the basics of an economy – e.g., vital infrastructure and strategic industries. If it sounds like connecting the dots, it is! In one word, an ecosystem.”

Note the element of “strategic industries.” And that is why this posting finds it encouraging that the DTI is preaching key sectors.

But what about industries that don’t fall under them? The blog recently gave an unsolicited advice to the Ilocos region and DTI re their focused industries: cacao, coffee, mango, and processed meat and fish industries. There are ways to address these initiatives in a visionary fashion – the key to the pursuit of a wealthy economy – so that we stop looking at Juan de la Cruz as an object of charity.

“[T]ake cacao. Where do we export this product? What are the different segments representing the levels of value-added? The basic segment being the produce from our farms.

“And so we must ask: How high up the value chain do we go and compete? The higher we go the greater the probability of generating healthier margins – the critical element in the effort to attain a sustainable economic undertaking. For example, do we have premium chocolates like Belgian chocolates that are branded?”

In other words, we must be truly committed to manufacturing. And the mindset must not be simply “to revive” manufacturing – but “to win.” It takes a winner to sustain a competitive economic undertaking – and be on the way to a wealthy economy.

And before we can move up the value chain, we have to recognize that manufacturing demands its own ecosystem subset – or simply, of connected dots. Thankfully the JFC is on our case. But we have to demonstrate more self-help and initiative – we’re not PWDs?

“Foreign chambers cite obstacles to manufacturing growth,” Victor V. Saulon, Business World, 4th Mar 2016. “THE Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) has listed a number of constraints that are hampering the manufacturing sector from sustaining the steady growth that it has experienced in the last five years.

“While existing data spark optimism, industry players are cognizant that a number of constraints hamper the sector’s upward trend . . .

“The joint chambers . . . said these issues cut across the diverse sub-sectors under manufacturing.

“JFC listed these as high power costs, congested ports, labor costs, bureaucracy, taxes and broken linkages in the supply chain. Manufacturing is also wary of the country’s non-inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- the free-trade agreement whose major proponent is the US . . .”

And as far as vital infrastructure is concerned, we have the PPP – and it is not a bad response. Though PPP despite its many accolades continues to be faced with daunting challenges. And they are not surprising: given crab mentality and culture of impunity, why shouldn’t we expect inefficiency and ineffectiveness and mediocre productivity to be the rule? 

KISS is like an insect repellant. If the public sector learns how to keep it simple, there will be less opportunity for bugs to bite – as in complexity. Complexity is the devil’s workshop; while the road to heaven is straight and narrow . . . There’s no two ways about it . . . If “conviction” is not in our heart, character- and institution-building will indeed defy us? [And is our sheltered upbringing a factor? Recall Carol Dweck’s treatise re mindset,, 7th Dec 2015.]

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“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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