Friday, June 17, 2016

Challenges in agriculture, government bureaucracy and FDIs . . . and beyond

These challenges were discussed in recent articles in our local papers. We may or may not appreciate it but our “worldview” impacts how we approach and proceed to address them and our many challenges.

It is no different from the 1987 Constitution. Our worldview then was ABM – “anything but Marcos.” Decades later we would realize that it has its flaws. What if when we wrote the Constitution our worldview was “to be a developed nation,” how would we have approached and proceeded to write it?

Imagining the future meant for man’s wellbeing is not about fitting it to a preconceived idea or system but to enable the attainment of a desired outcome. It is fundamental in the pursuit of innovation – or “out-of-the-box” thinking. It is not putting the cart before the horse, fundamental in problem-solving.

And to this day the “pursuit of life, liberty and happiness” stands out and is held as an ideal even by the Brits, the once colonizers of the New World. Yet it is acknowledged as a hypothesis – not cast in stone – and efforts since its framing are considered experiments. 

Decades after the 1987 Constitution, did we expect a minority to turn into a supermajority in Congress – when precisely we wrote a constitution to be the opposite of what Marcos represented?

We want and need leadership, one that that will show us the way to community and the common good – but not a rubberstamp Congress?

If the future we imagine is to foster the wellbeing of Juan de la Cruz, should we then aspire to be a developed economy? And as part of the hypothesis, we need to establish which economies are to be our benchmarks?

And what characteristics do they manifest and share? For instance, they would be predominantly middle class. What are the building blocks of such economies? And they would most likely be founded on the rule of law. How did they progress from underdeveloped to developed? Chances are they developed the three legs of agriculture, industry and services, unless they’re small like Singapore.

In developed economies, agriculture would be characterized as modern, efficient, driven by economies of scale, yields marketable and competitive products and most likely represents a virtuous cycle.

And if we factor rice, which of these countries in fact embraced the mantra of self-sufficiency? Most likely those involved in rice were committed to and proactively pursued a virtuous cycle.

In PH, are we witnessing a ray of hope, a new dawn in agriculture? That today we’re thinking big not small like the shortsightedness of land reform? Still, such thinking demands lots of leadership and doing. “The broad outlines of what are in store for agriculture and fisheries under the Duterte administration are becoming clear . . . The ambition recently pronounced by [incoming Agriculture Secretary-designate Manny] Piñol for the Philippines to regain the status as the world’s largest coconut products exporter, even if it means planting 600,000 additional hectares in the next six years is most welcome by coconut farmers.

“The 600,000 hectares of new coconut plantings need not be additional physical hectares but include the senile and unproductive plantations out of the existing 3.2 million hectares which need to be replanted as soon as possible.” [Marching orders for coconut, Dr. Emil Javier, Manila Bulletin, 12th Jun 2016]

As Dr. Javier points out, these are still broad outlines. But this is the kind of major initiatives that must stay on our radar screen. And media ought not to drop the ball like we saw in Arangkada Philippines?

What is the North Star? A quantum leap in economic output. And major revenue-generating initiatives like driving coconut, our biggest agribusiness, and Arangkada Philippines are what we must celebrate – not the impunity that comes with political patronage and dynasties . . . and cronyism and oligarchy.

How did Einstein define insanity? We know very well that our economic output is driven by OFW remittances and the BPO industry to the tune approaching 20%. And with very little costs input, the impact on the economy is quite impressive and thus our consumption economy. And why we’re no longer the sick man of Asia.

But if we care to benchmark against our neighbors, we don’t have to go very far and will realize why we’re still the regional laggard. Consistent with “pwede na ‘yan,” we are celebrating the windfall called OFW remittances while taking for granted the socials ills that come with it. And worse, we keep barking at the wrong tree, poverty.

What about the challenges posed by government bureaucracy and the shortfalls in PH’s FDIs? Again, which nations must be our benchmarks? These countries, chances are, would demonstrate world-class civil service, approximating the private sector in administration and management – e.g., structure, systems, practices, tools and techniques, etc. 

And more likely than not, more developed nations have neutralized crony capitalism and oligarchy. And South Korea is a good example. And not surprisingly, they’re like magnets in attracting FDIs. How can something that appears straightforward to our neighbors be so excruciatingly difficult for us?

In other words, we can’t hedge between our favorite crony or oligarchy and FDIs. “Cronyism worse in Philippines today – study,” Jarius Bondoc, GOTCHA, 13th Jun 2016. There is no economic miracle that was built on oligarchy – and we must not mistake parochialism for patriotism? It is the laws of physics. Water seeks its own level.

When the Asian Tigers opened their arms to FDIs, beyond money they sought technology. And Deng expressed it pretty directly, “we need Western money and technology if we are to lift our people from poverty.”

Should we wonder why China became an economic miracle and drastically reduced poverty? Compare that to us borrowing money to address poverty? And the flavor of the month is federalism? To spread out the national budget more equitably and address poverty?

Should we wonder why China advanced rapidly in innovation and competitiveness? And we’re still talking about Ease of Doing Business akin to warming up before a big game when the game is already on – a highly globalized and competitive 21st century world.

Of course China is not perfect. That is why benchmarking is about picking and choosing best practices. Because perfection is not of this world.

How should we approach and proceed to address what we see as flaws in the Constitution as well as challenges like those of agriculture, government bureaucracy and FDIs?

In our heart of hearts, we must value freedom and democracy and the free enterprise system? Indeed, economics is at the heart of it. And an oligarchic economy is a stark example of tyranny which, sadly, we’ve long embraced? How can freedom and democracy reign when tyranny rules?

That’s what the UN is telling us but we want our sovereignty not the interference of outsiders? How backward do we want to be? Is regional laggard not backward enough? And how can we handle unsolicited advice when we don’t like self-criticism in the first place? As Lea Salonga learned?

Lea thought we have sinned as a people but we don’t take that. We don’t take self-criticism. Full stop. No wonder we don't truly look outward and benchmark. 

“So to Salonga’s list of national afflictions, she can add small-minded thinking—a dangerous condition that goads people to declare that they wouldn’t mind curtailments on the freedoms they currently enjoy . . . ‘Our liberty will not be secured at the sword’s point,’ Rizal wrote. ‘We must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it.’

“People who refuse to engage with the hard questions and prefer instead to stay on the cheery surface of things; who suppress dissent, forget history and dismiss appeals to the rule of law as weakness; who are so cavalier, in other words, about their freedoms as to want to give these up just like that… Such people are unworthy of that great gift of liberty.” [Being worthy of liberty, EditorialPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 12th Jun 2016]

Is the idiocy of a cacique hierarchical system and structure holding our worldview hostage to even be primed for change? Of course it goes deeper: parochial, hierarchical, paternalistic, political patronage and dynasties, cronyism and oligarchy!

“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]

1 comment:

  1. I sincerely believe that the new people bring order -, but not yap, which constantly occur in today's world. The man who brings peace to be strong and not afraid of difficulties. I hope it will be so, as we think.