OPTIMISM OF FILIPINOS ON ECONOMY, QUALITY OF LIFE DIPS - SURVEY

Filipinos’ optimism about the economy and their quality of life dropped in the last quarter of 2013, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed. Optimism about the economy declined from “very high” to “high” in the SWS nationwide survey taken from Dec. 11 to 16. Results of the poll, which were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday, showed 30 percent of adult Filipinos saying the economy will likely get better this year while 21 percent said otherwise, for a net score of eight percent.

ALSO: PHL poverty still rampant despite growth, says ex-Finance chief

"Growth has not made a dent on poverty," former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo told foreign and local businessmen at the Arangkada Philippines Forum in Manila on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Despite a remarkable economic growth in recent years, government has failed to provide enough jobs and lift more people out of poverty, experts and businessmen warned. The Philippines Moves Forward, But Not Far Enough: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Former Philippine Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo gives a speech during the Arangkada Philippines Forum in Manila on Feb. 26. Roberto de Ocampo, a former finance secretary, cited two extreme examples of how slow decision-making has obstructed much-needed infrastructure projects. Other organizations have also recognized some of Manila’s reform efforts. In October, the Philippines was named the world’s most-improved country in the latest Ease of Doing Business Report released by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, jumping 30 places to No. 108, out of 189 countries. That ranking remains low, however, and other business leaders say the country still has serious issues to address when it comes to starting a business. “It takes too long to get anything done here,” said Guillermo Luz, co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, a public-private task force set up by the government in 2006 to help improve the country’s lackluster business environment. In particular, he cited the ease of starting a business: On this score, the Philippines ranks a dismal 161st out of 170 in the World Bank/IFC league table. The Philippines needs to redouble its reform efforts if it wants to overtake regional rivals for investment like Indonesia and Vietnam, which are themselves making improvements, he said.

ALSO: Did the long lines of people seeking NBI clearance really disappear?

Those long lines of people seeking an NBI clearance used to snake from the top floor of MegaMall
to the
basement where NBI has a small receiving office. At the Robinson’s Galleria mall, I am
told people line up as early as 3 a.m. for a number to get that precious NBI document. It is simply horrible. I have often wondered why Malacañang has allowed this cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on our poor people for many administrations now. The inability to properly provide this front line service in a humane manner is one justifiable reason for people to lose faith in their government. So I asked Justice Undersecretary Geronimo “Indy” Sy why we need to get an NBI clearance at all. Usec Indy said that’s the worse part of it… it is anti-poor because only the poor have a life and death need for it to get a job anywhere. But, Usec Indy proudly said, those bad old days are over. “Notice how those long lines disappeared overnight after the DOJ introduced a proper computer system to get the job done.”


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Pinoy optimism on economy, quality of life  dropped


MANILA, MARCH 3, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores - Filipinos’ optimism about the economy and their quality of life dropped in the last quarter of 2013, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

Optimism about the economy declined from “very high” to “high” in the SWS nationwide survey taken from Dec. 11 to 16.

Results of the poll, which were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday, showed 30 percent of adult Filipinos saying the economy will likely get better this year while 21 percent said otherwise, for a net score of eight percent.

SWS said December’s “high” net score of eight percent was a “downgrade” from September’s “very high” 17 percent.

Net optimism about the economy has been “very high” since June 2011, the survey research institution noted.

Net optimism about the economy fell to a “high” four percent in both Mindanao and the Visayas, down by 12 and seven points, respectively.

It also dropped by 10 points to 13 in balance Luzon but remained in “very high” territory. It stayed “high” in Metro Manila, up by two points to seven.

By socioeconomic class, optimism about the economy dropped to “high” among the masa (down by eight points to nine) and the E (down by 11 points to two).

It fell by eight points to 20 but stayed “very high” among the ABC, the SWS said.

Quality of life

The SWS poll, meanwhile, found 41 percent of the respondents claiming their quality of life would likely improve in the next 12 months, compared to eight percent who declared otherwise, for a net score of 33 percent.

The new net score was down by two points – within the poll’s margin of error – from September but remained “very high,” the SWS said.

Net personal optimism fell six points to a “high” 29 in Mindanao.

It also dropped by seven points to 22 in the Visayas but remained “high.”

Metro Manila’s score was unchanged at a “very high” 35, while it improved by two points in balance Luzon to similarly “very high” 39.

By socioeconomic class, net personal optimism fell by 23 points to a “high” 26 among the ABC and 12 points to a “high” 24 among the class E.

It stayed “very high” among the class D or masa, up by two points to 35.

The survey also showed 23 percent of the respondents saying their lives had improved in the past 12 months while 37 percent said otherwise, for a “mediocre” score of -13.

This was basically unchanged from the -12 percent seen three months earlier, the SWS said.

The fourth quarter SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,550 adults nationwide.

The sampling error margins used were plus or minus 2.5 percent, for national, plus or minus four percentage points for the Visayas, and plus or minus six percentage points for Metro Manila, Luzon and Mindanao percentages.

FROM GMA NEWS TV

PHL poverty still rampant despite growth, says ex-Finance chief Uploaded on 9:21AM Feb 27 GMA NEWS NETWORK


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

"Growth has not made a dent on poverty," former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo told foreign and local businessmen at the Arangkada Philippines Forum in Manila on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Despite a remarkable economic growth in recent years, government has failed to provide enough jobs and lift more people out of poverty, experts and businessmen warned. AFP/Noel Celis

The Philippines Moves Forward, But Not Far Enough February 28, 2014, 11:15 AM Article Comments SOUTHEAST ASIA REAL TIME HOME PAGE  By Trefor Moss

The Philippines is making progress on reforms proposed by foreign business leaders to create jobs and make the country more competitive. But they say more is needed for the country is to realize its full potential.

The Philippine economy expanded by 7.2% in 2013 after gaining 6.8% the previous year, making it the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. Thanks to rising exports, the impact of the massive typhoon that ripped through the central part of the country last November did little to crimp that growth.

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Philippine Public Transport Close To Electric Breakthrough Southern Philippines Continues To Reel From Power Outage The Philippines Moves Forward, But Not Far Enough Power Struggles in the Philippines A Goal to Lift All Ships in the Philippines But the Philippines, once known as the sick man of Asia, still compares poorly with several of its Southeast Asian neighbors as a destination for foreign companies, say business leaders.

While growth of 7.2% “sounds good,” said Ian Porter, the president of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, “it’s too low.”

“It should be 9%,” he added, during the recent launch of a report by the Philippines’ Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce.

Mr. Porter said red tape and slow decision-making are holding the country back, making it harder for Philippine companies to compete overseas and dissuading foreign companies from setting up here.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Former Philippine Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo gives a speech during the Arangkada Philippines Forum in Manila on Feb. 26. Roberto de Ocampo, a former finance secretary, cited two extreme examples of how slow decision-making has obstructed much-needed infrastructure projects.

He said he’d been party more than a decade ago to the original discussions about a new metro rail line in Manila, the MRT-7, which the government is still examining.

He also recalled consultations in the 1990s about turning the former Clark U.S. airbase – now a regional airport – into a major international transport hub. The project is once again being touted as a possible solution to the country’s shortage of air transport capacity, Mr. de Ocampo noted.

There are, however, some encouraging signs of progress, said business leaders at the report launch.

According to a program laid out by the Joint Foreign Chambers in 2010 to monitor reforms, the government is making progress on the majority of more than 450 recommendations put forth by its members.

Known as Arangkada Philippines, or “Moving the Philippines Forward”, the report highlighted areas where reform would have a positive impact on the country’s business environment. Proposals ranged from implementing e-governance to strengthening anti-corruption legislation to privatizing more state assets.

It covered seven key sectors of the Philippine economy – agribusiness, outsourcing, creative industries, manufacturing, logistics, mining and tourism.

Manila had made some progress on roughly half the proposed reforms in 2011, a year after the recommendations were released. By last year it had begun to address nearly 75% of those reforms, the report said.

The findings demonstrated that the Philippines is implementing a wide range of structural reforms that should enable it to unlock some of the economic potential to which Mr. Porter referred.

Other organizations have also recognized some of Manila’s reform efforts. In October, the Philippines was named the world’s most-improved country in the latest Ease of Doing Business Report released by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, jumping 30 places to No. 108, out of 189 countries.

That ranking remains low, however, and other business leaders say the country still has serious issues to address when it comes to starting a business.

“It takes too long to get anything done here,” said Guillermo Luz, co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, a public-private task force set up by the government in 2006 to help improve the country’s lackluster business environment.

In particular, he cited the ease of starting a business: On this score, the Philippines ranks a dismal 161st out of 170 in the World Bank/IFC league table.

The Philippines needs to redouble its reform efforts if it wants to overtake regional rivals for investment like Indonesia and Vietnam, which are themselves making improvements, he said. Arangkada Philippines, economic growth, Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, Philippines, Roberto de Ocampo

FROM PHILSTAR

Did the long lines really disappear? DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 3, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


By Boo Chanco

MANILA -Those long lines of people seeking an NBI clearance used to snake from the top floor of MegaMall to the basement where NBI has a small receiving office.

At the Robinson’s Galleria mall, I am told people line up as early as 3 a.m. for a number to get that precious NBI document.

It is simply horrible. I have often wondered why Malacañang has allowed this cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on our poor people for many administrations now. The inability to properly provide this front line service in a humane manner is one justifiable reason for people to lose faith in their government.

So I asked Justice Undersecretary Geronimo “Indy” Sy why we need to get an NBI clearance at all. Usec Indy said that’s the worse part of it… it is anti-poor because only the poor have a life and death need for it to get a job anywhere.

But, Usec Indy proudly said, those bad old days are over. “Notice how those long lines disappeared overnight after the DOJ introduced a proper computer system to get the job done.”

The Usec cautioned that they are not through fixing the usual initial bugs but the system is up and running. People are starting to get their clearances without having to lose sleep or waste a whole working day in a line. Applying for a clearance can now be done on line.

Still, the project is very much work in progress. I decided to “crowdsource” the question of how well the new system is doing. I asked my Facebook friends what they have seen and experienced. The reactions are mixed.

From Cebu, journalist Ares Gutierrez said “cleared na lahat sir.” Oliver Gonzalez confirmed “you can apply online then just go to the malls for payment, the process is shortened.”

But Jack Chua reports “Robinson’s Metro East along Marcos Highway: Starts from footbridge. I will take a photo on Monday.”

Neil Chiongson: “Mr. Boo, still true at least about a week ago when I got mine. One thing is noticeable. The NBI people are more courteous now. At least in my place.”

Ernest Chua: “The lines are still there…”

I guess there are no overnight miracles. I am encouraged that something is being done and progress is being made.

The new NBI clearance system, Usec Indy explained to me, “is the first time in the history that it is DOJ-owned and operated by the NBI. It also saves the taxpayers about 15 percent per year compared to the past.”

Usec Indy said some 60 sites all over the Philippines are up and the average daily volume of clearances processed is at 22k to 28k, already higher than what was delivered previously. All sites are registering increases over the past two months as capacity improves and the system stabilizes.

The online application was launched in the first three weeks after the switch-on last Dec. 31, 2013. Online applicants are now at 40 percent of total applications received.

Usec Sy, who in previous conversations impressed me as one determined red tape cutter, pointed out that they also streamlined the procedure. “The overall direction is to make the clearance process simpler, easier and less time-consuming and not painful for all those who need it.

“We are very conscious of the queues and the waste of resources. We also want to improve the turnaround time for employers and recruiters who require the clearance.”

The form distribution as the first step has been cut since it can be downloaded (www.nbi.gov.ph/clearance) and that means applicants key in their own details. The other three steps are payment, biometric capturing and releasing. Online payment and renewal modules will be introduced soon.

The Justice Usec revealed that the main NBI office center hit a historic high of almost 9,000 clearances in a single day. He saw this as reflecting the strength of the software and the faster processing time that are now in place.

I take this good news as proof that good governance works to benefit the people, P-Noy’s bosses and we need more cases of this to make Daang Matuwid meaningful. The problem in the past is that those in charge of the clearance process are more interested in other things than getting the job efficiently done.

I remember that there were controversies in the past over the awarding of the computer system contracts to unqualified entities owned by friends of whoever was in power at the NBI. This time, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s strict instruction to Usec Sy was just to get it done right and fast.

Puede pala. Maybe the clueless DOTC Usecs hopelessly trying to bid out the LTO computer system could take some lessons from DOJ Usec Sy.

But the NBI computer system is not the end of the DOJ streamlining effort. Usec Sy has also managed to get the cooperation of the Immigration people to think the same way about cutting red tape and save money in the process.

Thus, Filipino passport holders need not fill up an immigration arrival form… the e-passport issued by DFA is enough. Only foreign passport holders need to fill up the immigration arrival form. They are also looking for a way to make the customs declaration form redundant.

But Filipinos must still fill up a departure immigration form because they have to check that against the hold departure order list. Foreigners, on the other hand, don’t have to fill up that form.

Usec Sy promises that they at the DOJ “shall continue to innovate and institute a kaizen mentality.” He admits that this is a challenging goal but he thinks “people will not want to go back to a slower, less hi-tech system once the standards are set.”

Kaizen, according to online businessdictionary.com, is a Japanese term for a gradual approach to ever higher standards in quality enhancement and waste reduction, through small but continual improvements involving everyone from the chief executive to the lowest level workers. It was popularized by Mosaki Imai in his book ‘Kaizen: The Key To Japan’s Competitive Success.’”

Usec Indy Sy admits there are some difficult issues to be tackled in the course of getting people to accept change like the mentality of people who are used to doing the same thing for years and resist changes. But he is hopeful continuous training of organic personnel to render proper public service will win out in the end.

Wow! I couldn’t believe I was talking to a government official and a lawyer at that. Such idealism coupled with determination and restlessness to see change happen is not common in a government bureaucrat, least of all from a lawyer.

Lawyers normally think the more rules, the more complicated the process, the better. Usec Sy attributes his enthusiasm to the leadership and support of Sec. De Lima but I sense a strong personal commitment as well.

From my conversation with him, I am convinced he understands the new digital age. He sees the need to upgrade government services and regulations to meet the requirements of the digital world.

Usec Sy is one reason why I am not too concerned about the implementing rules of the controversial Cyber law. He was assigned to draft those rules and he is just waiting for the motions for reconsideration at the SC to be resolved.

I don’t think the rules he is drafting will be as draconian as many fear. For those of us journalists who had been operating under the libel provisions of the Revised Penal Code, it will simply be business as usual.

I am glad there is someone in government who has a broad view of how to digitize government operations for improved efficiency in service delivery. Short of a national ID system, we can benefit from an effort to orchestrate all the activities of the NBI, BI, DFA, NSO, GSIS, SSS and Comelec in gathering bits of information from all of us. Why can’t we be like most countries, including the US, where one number, one registration is enough to deal with government?

In the meantime, we need someone like Usec Sy or clones of Usec Sy in every frontline government office to make life easier for us when we deal with government. That’s a reasonable wish to make, I suppose.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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