MANILA, JULY 19, 2011 (POC) PHILIPPINE ONLINE CHRONICLES- Home Commentaries- The economic vision and platform of Noynoy Aquino posted online on Thursday, 21 January 2010 09:12 PM by Cocoy - This is how change begins. The air is bristling with possibilities. Can you feel it energized by Hope and Faith in our unified Future?

Before a room of 800 senior executives that make up the Makati Business Club, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines and the diplomatic corps, was Senator Benigno S. Aquino III delivering his first policy speech and when it was over: a standing ovation.

Change is off to a great start.

This is what Noynoy Aquino envisions for the Philippines: a country where taxes are lower and where markets are free to encourage entrepreneurs and enterprises to invest for jobs to be created.

Is that possible?

“As of November 2009,” Senator Aquino noted, “the deficit of the national government already reached PHP272.5B, or 4.1% of GDP.”

These are facts:

BIR Collection fell 5.5%. Bureau of Customs Collection declined 16.6%. These are estimates lost to corruption:

280 Billion Pesos in 2009. Over 1 Trillion pesos between 2002 and 2009. “For the first time in recent history,” Noynoy Aquino said, “that absolute revenue declined.”

The atmosphere seems dismal. The task before us daunting and yet amidst these truths, an Aquino administration is confident that it will avoid imposing higher taxes or introduce new taxes.

Okay, that sounds crazy doesn’t it? Tax revenues have declined, and Aquino wants to lower taxes. How is he going to achieve all that?

Aquino says he will crack down on two things:

Smuggling; Tax Evasion.

As President, Mr. Aquino will continue with existing and successful programs such as the “Run After Tax Evaders” (RATE). In fact, Aquino said that his campaign and future administration is already hard at working hand-in-hand with reform minded career executives from the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Fact: tax collection fell from a high of 17% to 13% (update: tax effort) today.

Noynoy Aquino believes that if government can raise tax collection from 13% to 15% and that change is equivalent to PHP150B more revenues or 55% of our current deficit of PHP272.5B.

This is what we lose due to inefficient infrastructure: PHP2 Billion worth of fuel.

To solve this, Noynoy Aquino proposes to transform infrastructure project from sources of inefficiencies to “examples of cooperation and efficiency.” He envisions Local Government Units (LGU) and Infrastructure agencies to work hand in hand with the private sector “by bringing forth an agreed public infrastructure program based on a cohesive plan that optimizes the value of the entire network.”

This infrastructure program is aimed also to invigorate the economy.

Fact: administrative costs in Agriculture cost tax payers a lot such as P60M lost by the government to National Agribusiness Corporation.

Noynoy Aquino will review the Department of Agriculture’s entire current program and encourage the use of supply chain management.

“What is it that we want to change?”

Repair the damage on our democratic institutions; Improve the situation of our people; Give our young opportunity to improve ; To make government leap from patronage to development. For far too long our government has been strangling the nation with not just high rhetoric but heavy taxes. This speech was filled with substance that critics of Aquino must now answer. The new direction in tax collection personally I find, is a welcome relief.

The present administration has been strangling the people. Everything is taxed to the point that there is nothing to be squeezed. That the high tax rate forces even more corruption to avoid paying exuberant tax rates.

The present administration has reached a point that to raise revenue it has attempted and circumvented an International Treaty that says, thou shall not tax book importation. It has attempted to raise taxes by taxing SMS.

Why is Noynoy Aquino’s plan to eventually reduce taxes good for you and me?

Translated into human terms, tax reduction opens a door to allow people to either save more, or spend in the economy. It allows people disposable income to spend on more things other than food. It raises the quality of living, and more people buying, means the economy is breathing, and money is flowing.

Just imagine that the money you earned, actually benefits you.

Mr. Aquino aims to make government more efficient. The cynical may argue that “government and efficient” used together is an oxymoron. Given billions of pesos lost to smuggling, and tax evasion, given almost three hundred billion deficit and given that current efforts to raise revenue have fallen short, Mr. Aquino’s policy speech outlining his intent is a breath of fresh air.

After nine years, the clamor is to abandon everything wrong with the status quo and to cast it off. Noynoy Aquino intends to shift the status quo of economic survival into robust economic growth. It is that firm belief that we can change the system. It is now the moment to take the leap from patronage to development.

It will be interesting to see, in the weeks and months to come, as the campaign advances forward the specifics for the massive infrastructure project that Mr. Aquino intends to accomplish.

The fight to unravel the tendrils of corruption; the great task of Institutional Reform, the massive investment in infrastructure, these are the steps needed to move forward. Noynoy Aquino and his Team understand the threats of tomorrow and clearly have a plan that is not shallow.

Today, we saw an inkling of what a future Aquino Administration could be, if elected in May. It is a promise to transform the poor Philippines into a middle class Philippines.

This is why the air bristles with possibilities. This is why Change is off to a great start. This is Noynoy Aquino’s vision in his own words:

“My vision is to transform our country into one where we have lower tax rates enjoyed by all, rather than have some enjoy absolute tax exemptions while we burden the rest of the economy with very high tax rates. I believe that markets are better than government in spotting where the growth opportunities are, and, with universal low tax rates, we will encourage entrepreneurs and enterprises to invest and create jobs in any industry. We will therefore, pursue the rationalization of fiscal incentives early in my administration.”

Finally, we have a serious presidential candidate talking about policy and real issues. That is what people have been waiting and hoping for. If today is an indication, then this election is Mr. Aquino's to lose.

"Tayo, sa halip na kayo at kami."

This is how change begins. Noynoy Aquino intends to push for a government of unity and coupled with a push to plug leaks in the system of tax collection, reduce smuggling, invigorate the economy through an infrastructure program that is about cooperation and efficiency, and lower tax rate for all. Noynoy Aquino's Economic Vision can be distilled further into these four simple words: “a Philippines that Works.”


Noynoy Aquino's Presidency: A Global Perspective - Part II FILIPINO WORLD VIEW By Roberto R. Romulo (The Philippine Star) Updated May 31, 2010 12:00 AM

WE continue today with the publication of excerpts from international editorials and commentaries on the election of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to the Philippine presidency.

As will be readily seen, the comments come from publications and individuals who have a serious interest in Asian affairs and the global economy, and in our country’s role in the region and the global economy.

In the case of publications in Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand, they write with regard to our relations with their countries and our membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

If they have been unanimous in hailing Mr. Aquino’s election, it is plainly in the hope that under him, our country will finally start to surmount its perennial problems and fulfill its great potential.

The Jakarta Post writes about the stigmatization as “a sick man” that has made us worrisome for foreign investors and a laggard in the region. In focusing his campaign on eradicating graft and corruption, Aquino draws much praise but many also doubt whether he will succeed. High also among their concerns is the country’s continuing struggle with a Communist insurgency and a Muslim rebellion.

We Filipinos may see these problems differently from our perspective here at home. But how our neighbors and the rest of the world see them is just as critical, because our hopes for growth and stability are linked in no little way to our relations with our region and the world.

Straits Times

Editorial, 14 May 2010

Mr. Aquino won with a huge mandate, larger than his predecessors’, going by his share of the popular vote. He should not squander this opportunity to put the Philippines back on the path to growth and progress. For too long now, it has been plagued by corruption, feuding political families, low levels of investment and rampant poverty. A tenth of its population have sought their fortunes overseas. Many Filipinos remember how the country was once ranked as Asia’s second-richest country after Japan. Now it has become one of its poorest and least developed. The Philippines risks being marginalized in today’s fast-changing globalized world.

The biggest challenge for Mr. Aquino would be the fight against corruption. It is gratifying that he has declared he would go after the thieves who have plundered the nation’s coffers. This is seen as an overt challenge to Mrs. Arroyo. But Mr. Aquino will have his work cut out for him, given the country’s patronage-based culture.

Some of Mr. Aquino’s critics have been dismissive of his privileged background and lacklustre political career. Others note that he won largely because of his family name. They may be right, or they may not be. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is for him now to offer to the people a realistic vision of the future, one that leverages on the strengths of its people and their collective hopes and aspirations.

The Korea Herald

Editorial, 14 May 2010

It is fortunate that the Philippines, which had presidency after presidency of corruption and ineptitude, still has a man who could combine the family aura with his own clean image. But it makes us uneasy that the nation has put an untested leader into a position of power that undoubtedly faces bigger problems than the governments of its neighbors…

Aquino made many promises in his hasty campaign. He would arrest all corrupt officials, even those in the Congress and the judiciary. He would avoid foreign trips to save the government budget. Reforms in education, health care and other basic services will all be aimed at providing direct benefits to the poor. International statistics reveal that one third of the Filipino people live on $1 a day. Aquino promised to distribute his family’s large sugar estate to landless peasants…

Aquino’s strength right now may be more symbolic than substantial. But he can make a real difference to the country over the next six years if he can get the people out of a sense of resignation about corruption in high places by demonstrating his own cleanness.

Business Times Singapore

Editorial, 14 May 2010

Mr. Aquino campaigned strongly on an anti-corruption platform. But to put it into effect, he faces a steep uphill climb. Sadly, corruption is deeply ingrained in Filipino society and politics, and it exacts a heavy toll. The country was ranked 139th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perception Index, which is based on 13 independent surveys…

Other issues are equally or more pressing. There are infrastructure challenges, widespread poverty, a budget deficit and a sustained insurgency. In its election comment, Moody’s noted that Mr. Aquino ran on a platform that was ‘heavy on rhetoric but light on substance’. It noted that the Philippines has more debt than its rating peers, which would be vulnerable to interest rate, exchange rate and confidence shocks.

While Mr. Aquino’s intentions are laudable, even heroic, the recent history of Philippine politics does not inspire optimism. He will need to assemble a team of like- minded reformists who can help to articulate and act on his policies and agenda, and are themselves incorruptible. A brave heart will also help.

Comment by Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group

South China Morning Post

18 May 2010

The Philippines has done something right. The success of last week’s election confounded doomsayers and gave the country an achievement to be proud of. It is not so much that voters chose the untested Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III by a wide margin. It is rather that the country as a whole took a chronic problem, election fraud, and came up with the solution – automated elections…

Suddenly there is hope for some of the country’s other intractable problems. What if the new president were to take another one – private armies – and apply the same approach? These well-equipped forces, run by politically influential warlords – there are 72 of them according to a recent government estimate, and that’s probably low – are a major source of violence…

Nothing in Aquino’s background suggests he will be a force for major change. In taking on private armies, he would be taking on entrenched power structures, some of relatively recent vintage, some going back generations, and he, too, is the product of a privileged family dynasty. But, by all accounts, he has attracted good and competent people around him. If voters chose him because they wanted change, putting the eradication of private armies at the top of his agenda would be one good response.

The Jakarta Post

Editorial, 18 May 2010

The Philippines, for years described as a “sick man” in this region, demonstrated convincing evidence to the world last week that the banner of “stigmatization” is no longer relevant there following a successful election there that chose a new leader in a peaceful, democratic and civilized manner. The victory of Senator Benigno S. Aquino III in the May 10 elections was undeniable proof of the maturity of the Filipino people in exercising their constitutional rights to determine who they wanted to be their president.

The description by an international newspaper and news services that “Mr. Aquino will inherit a Southeast Asian nation grappling with poverty and debilitated by Marxist and Muslim insurgencies, military unrest, corruption, violent crime and political strife” is a misleading conclusion when we consider the nation’s future. Like its recovering economy, the power of millions of Filipino migrant workers is also a vital asset for the nation to rid itself of the “sick man” stigma…

Many people doubted the new president’s ability to lead one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). But only time can tell whether Aquino will be able to satisfy the wishes of his voters.

One thing is sure - a stable and prosperous Philippines, including its ability to peacefully overcome its Muslim rebellions in the southern Philippines - will be pivotal for ASEAN.


An unsolicited draft of President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) for July 25, 2011 July 18, 2011 By benign0

My dear countrymen, members of Congress, honourable House Speaker, Senate President, and Chief Justice, ladies and gentlemen of the dimplomatic corps:

Today I stand before you, this 25th day of July 2011 to do three things: (1) report on what we had achieved in the last twelve months, (2) give you a summary of the challenges that lie ahead in the next year, and (3) brief you on the plan to navigate these challenges and face an uncertain future.

I am here not to make excuses for any perceived deficit in my government’s achievements to date, not to attempt to use the challenges I outline as caveats to what I am expected to deliver in the coming year, and certainly not to cloud my plan to face uncertainty by purposely using ambiguous words, tired slogans, and quaint euphemisms.

My aim today is to highlight reality and provide clarity using simple words.

Before I go into our achievements, I will need to account for my government’s failures. To face one’s failures is to acknowledge the lessons learnt from said failures with courage — for to find the courage to do so makes the task of finding it to face the future a bit easier.

The rallying cry of my presidential campaign remains consistent with the core principle that guides the singular goal of my administration today — to fight corruption under the premise that to eliminate it is to eliminate the grinding poverty that has long defined the Filipino.

Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.

It is a simple yet powerful principle. Unfortunately, I have realised only now that it requires more than twelve months to fulfill a promise to eliminate corruption. As such, I hereby report today that as of the twelfth month of my term as your President, I have so far failed to deliver on that campaign promise.

But that does not mean I have taken my eye off the ball. My goal to rid this country of corruption and pave the way for prosperity remains squarely in my sights. It is this intensified resolve to succeed in this endeavour garnered over the last 12 months that I present to you today as my greatest achievement to date.

As the most recent modern-day crusader of the free world once said: Make no mistake. Ours is a society that is closed because opportunity is not universally accessible, inefficient because everything is made unnecessarily hard, and complicated because nothing is ever as simple as it is made out to be.

And I am aware of what specifically is at work that results in a society that is closed, inefficient, and complicated. It is these specific things that stand in the way of our march towards a corruption-free society: the vested interests of the few and the favoured, a snail-paced justice system, a selective application of the Law, outdated and convoluted regulatory frameworks and processes, and lack of transparency.

My aim therefore in the coming months — leading down the road to the rest of the five years I will serve you as President is quite simple. I plan to dismantle the monopoly this favoured few have over the bounty of our country’s opportunity to prosper, dismantle the mechanisms that enable them to manage around personal interests not in line with the common good, streamline the justice system to assure us that doing the right thing works, apply the Law to all with no exception so that everyone is acountable, modernise our frameworks that guide regulation and procedure so that we as a national economy can compete, and make information freely accessible and available to all Filipinos who wish to partake in it so that there are less surprises and circuses.

I will be working with my Cabinet and peers in Congress and the Supreme Court to ensure that we develop a detailed plan around these six pillars of prosperity I described — opportunity, the common good, making things work, accountability, competitiveness, and transparency — and stick to it over the next five years.

This I assure you, ladies and gentlemen: together, we will make prosperity happen.

Thank you.

[Above is an unsolicited draft of the second State of the Nation Address to be delivered by Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III before joint sessions of Congress on July 25, 2011, respectfully submitted for consideration by the author of this blog.]

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