GOVT IS URGED TO INVEST IN EDUCATION, INFRA TO DRAW MORE INVESTORS, CREATE JOBS - TRADE UNION CONGRESS CHIEF 

Sept 9 --PHOTO: Former Senator Ernesto Herrera president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP). The head of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines urged the government to invest more in education and infrastructure for the energy and agriculture sectors to draw more investments that would open up more jobs for workers.
“The problem really is the lack of investment, both public and private,” Ernesto Herrera, president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, said when sought for comment on the findings of the government think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies that the minimum wage has discouraged the creation of jobs and lowered the employment rate in the country.

“Many of our micro industries are exempted from paying the minimum wage. It could not be true that that is the reason for the very low employment rate,” Herrera said. According to the former senator, the employment rate is related to investments that generate employment opportunities, and government should invest more in infrastructure, including education (to build the human resource pool needed by businesses), energy (to ensure reasonably priced and stable supply of electricity) and agriculture (to ensure the availability of raw materials for businesses and generate jobs where most of the Filipinos find their livelihood). “We need competitive costs of electricity, irrigation, farm-to-market roads, training,” Herrera said. “The private sector will not invest if there is no sufficient justification, meaning they are not convinced that they can make money, because their motivation is profit,” he said. *READ MORE...

[Heard on Inquirer Radio 990AM Philippine Daily Inquirer1:04 am | Thursday, May 1st, 2014 -The biggest problem in the labor force is the existing contractualization policy. The President has no solid position on the issue and he only promised that labor officials will look into the matter. It is clear that the government is still being held hostage by capitalists.—Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) spokesperson Alan Tanjusay]

ALSO: Gov’t pushes PPP Act to sustain infra gains beyond PNoy term 

SEPT 14 --The government is pushing for reforms to sustain the momentum of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects even after President Aquino steps down from office in June 2016. PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said the government is pursuing the enactment of the PPP Act that would amend Republic Act 7718 or the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Law. “The enactment of the PPP Act will ensure that the PPP program and the deal flow will continue in the next administration regardless of whoever takes over,” Canilao said. She pointed out that the proposed PPP Act has already been forwarded to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“We hope both chambers will act on passing the law as it will be one of the major measures to ensure sustainability of our economic growth,” she added. The rollout of PPP projects in the Philippines is in full swing after the award of seven projects worth close to P68 billion including the Daang Hari – South Luzon Expressway link road (P2 billion), PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase 1 (P8.86 billion), the PSIP-2 (P16.28 billion), the modernization project for the Philippine Orthopedic Center (P5.98 billion), the Ninoy Aquino International Airport expressway (P15.52 billion), the automated fare collection system project (P1.72 billion), and the Mactan – Cebu International Airport expansion project (P17.5 billion).

The award of the P65-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite extension project as well as the P35.4-billion Cavite – Laguna expressway project are now pending due to questions raised by losing and disqualified bidders. The Aquino administration is set to roll out 18 PPP projects worth P407 billion before June next year as part of the inventory of over 50 projects in the pipeline. The government has launched the biggest PPP project to date, the P123-billion Laguna Lakeshore expressway dike project; the P24.4-billion Bulacan Bulk Water supply project; the P4-billion Integrated Transport System (ITS) – South terminal; and the P2.5-billion ITS-Southwest terminal. *READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Pork’ inserted in AFP budget  

SEPT 10 --PHOTO: GAZMIN --Defense chief: DBM put P26b in discretionary funds. TO maintain the loyalty of the military brass, the Palace has inserted a special provision that allows the Armed Forces chief to “realign and re-prioritize” some P26.25 billion of its budget without congressional approval, turning it into one huge discretionary fund, Bayan Muna Rep. Isagani Carlos Zarate said Tuesday. During a budget hearing of the House committee on appropriations, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin admitted it was not the Defense Department’s idea, but the Budget Department’s initiative to make the insertion. The special provision would disregard the appropriation made by the Defense Department as proposed for approval and scrutiny by Congress, Zarate said.

In effect, it would allow the Armed Forces chief to disregard projects already approved by Congress and realign the budget by second quarter of the year, with realignments needing only the approval of the President, as recommended by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. “The insertion by the Budget Department of a special provision allowing the AFP chief of staff to re-prioritize and realign any item in its proposed 2015 budget will give the chief of the Armed Forces his own share of the anomalous pork barrel system,” Zarate said. This is the second time that the Makabayan bloc has demanded that special insertions in the budget be deleted.

In the previous panel hearing, the Palace was also discovered to have inserted similar special provision on the budget of the co-equal branches – Congress and the judiciary and other constitutional bodies – directing them to report to the President the disbursement for unfilled positions amounting to P7.2 billion. The lawmakers said the President is violating the judiciary’s fiscal autonomy and Congress’ power of the purse. “This is not only the balkanization of the graft-ridden pork barrel among the heads of the different departments, but, this porky share is apparently to also ensure the loyalty of the AFP chief to the present administration,” Zarate said. “In short, the AFP chief of staff is given his own pork barrel in the budget.”  *READ MORE...

ALSO: Proposed Palace budget for 2015 lower by P223 M  

SEPT 11 --The appropriations committee of the House of Representatives has endorsed a 2015 budget for President Aquino that is P223 million lower than this year’s funding. Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, committee chairman, said yesterday Aquino himself proposed the reduction in the funding requirement for the Office of the President. “We have to respect the President’s decision, though we have the power to restore the reduction and return the funding level for his office to what it is this year,” he said. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. told the Ungab committee Tuesday night that the OP budget would go down by eight percent from P2.791 billion this year to P2.568 billion in 2015.

Ochoa said provisions for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) would decrease from P1.998 billion to P1.911 billion or by P87 million, while capital (equipment) outlay would fall from P183.4 million to just P20 million, or by P163.4 million. “The OP will have lower MOOE because of cost-saving measures like bulk procurement of supplies,” he said. He said funding for salaries would go up by P28 million to P639.9 million due to increased personnel benefits. According to a Commission on Audit report on salaries and allowances received by bureaucrats, the OP has scores of Cabinet-level officials, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries who were paid from P1.3 million to P1.8 million in 2013. The highest-paid were Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Political Affairs Adviser Ronald Llamas, who received more than P1.8 million each. Ochoa earned P1.780 million, which was slightly higher than presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s P1.761 million. Llamas has remained with the OP despite being linked to a string of controversies, including his purchase of fake DVDs and the arrest of his driver and bodyguard for illegally carrying his AK-47 assault rifle. * READ MORE...

ALSO from 2005 to 2010: PH went from fifth to third-poorest in Southeast Asia - ADB 

Sept 13 --By Mahar Mangahas --From 2005 to 2010, the Philippines went from fifth-poorest to third-poorest country in Southeast Asia, as estimated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with a new “Asian regional poverty line” of $1.51/person/day (ppp, 2005 prices), as published in its August 2014 special report, “Poverty in Asia: A Deeper Look.” In 2005, the five poorest countries, per the ADB report, were: 1. Lao People’s Democratic Republic (54.1 percent of the population poor), 2. Cambodia (45.5 percent), 3. Vietnam (35.6 percent), 4. Indonesia (32.9 percent), and 5. the Philippines (30.9 percent). Then came 6. Thailand (2.5 percent) and 7. Malaysia (0.9 percent). The report includes only seven Southeast Asian countries. In 2010, on the other hand, the poorest country was Lao PDR (38.1 percent poor), followed by Indonesia (28.0 percent) and the Philippines (25.9 percent). Thus, both Vietnam and Cambodia overtook the Philippines in poverty reduction. Here is the full ADB table of poverty estimates for Southeast Asia: *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO by Tony Lopez: The poorer life of Filipinos  

August 22 --The other day (August 20), at the Crowne Plaza, before a distinguished group of diplomats, cabinet members, human development experts, economists and public servants, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan was supposed to report on the status of the Philippines’ human development, or lack of it. But the litany of data was so bad Arsi didn’t even bother to read his own speech. He let a mere statistician do the honors for him. According to the concept of human development, humans or people are the real wealth of the nation. People must come first, before the economy.

And so in 1990, the world decided to work on improving the human condition, based on eight parameters or goals. Thus was born the so-called eight Millennium Development Goals. A target year was set, 2015, to achieve goals of a longer and better life, better education, higher income, and smaller gap between the very rich and the very poor. To determine the ranking of countries in terms of human development, a Human Development Index (HDI) was designed. The lower the number of its rank, the higher is the degree of a country’s human development, the better is the living standard of its people The Philippines is a big country. With 100 million Filipinos, it is No. 12 in population. No. 12 out of more than 200 countries – that’s big. In terms of the size of its economy or Gross Domestic Product ($272 billion in nominal US dollars), the Philippines is No. 39. Among 200 countries, the country is in the top 20 percent in size of economy.

That means the Philippines is upper middle class. In human development thus, you would expect the Philippines to be ranked in the Top 40, at least, its population being No. 12 in the world, and its GDP No. 39, in the world. The real score: The Philippines is No. 117 out of 187 countries ranked in 2013. We are in the lowest 40 percent, not in the Top 40. We are in basketball terms, a cellar dweller. Former President Fidel V. Ramos points out that war-torn Libya, which has no working government, ranks much, much higher than the Philippines—No. 55. FVR credits reforms under the Gaffafi regime for Libya’s HDI ranking today. Over the past 14 years, the Philippines has steadily declined in HDI ranking—from 70th in 2001 to 84th in 2005, 90th in 2008, 97th in 2010, 112th in 2011, 114th in 2012, and 117th in 2013. That’s a precipitous drop of 47 rungs.

Under BS Aquino, the Philippines’s HDI ranking dropped by 20 rungs, from 97th to 117th, 43 percent of the total drop in 14 years. In effect, compared to other nationals in the world, the quality of life of the Filipino deteriorated by 43 percent under BS Aquino’s watch. Filipinos were more than twice better off in quality of life before BS Aquino became president. This year, out of a possible 8 perfect score in the MDG, the Philippines scored only 1. That’s a 15 percent achievement. In classroom terms, the Philipines is bobo (stupid), bano (incompetent), wa-class (not world class). How could that happen to one of the largest nations on earth, to the 39th richest nation in the world? 

Only one answer: Bad governance. Our leaders steal taxpayers’ money intended to improve the Filipino human condition. Think of PDAP (Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel which is P25 billion yearly) or the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP, which per one admission, is P149 billion). DAP is the personal checking account of President BS Aquino which is funded with taxpayers’ money. He used it to bribe senators to remove a sitting chief justice, bribe enemies of the state (billions were given to Cordillera rebels, P1.5 billion; Muslim separatists, P1.8 billion; ARMM P8.6 billion), bribe Congress (P250 million was given for Congress library, as if congressmen bothered to read), and bribe even the Commission on Audit (P143.7 million was given to buy computers and hire “litigation experts”; COA probably expects to be sued after receiving “unclean” money). If you want to read the extend of misuse of DAP money, go to the Supreme Court website. * READ MORE..


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Gov’t urged to invest in education, infra to draw more investments, create jobs


Former Senator Ernesto Herrera president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP)

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Erika Sauler - The head of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines urged the government to invest more in education and infrastructure for the energy and agriculture sectors to draw more investments that would open up more jobs for workers.

“The problem really is the lack of investment, both public and private,” Ernesto Herrera, president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, said when sought for comment on the findings of the government think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies that the minimum wage has discouraged the creation of jobs and lowered the employment rate in the country.

“Many of our micro industries are exempted from paying the minimum wage. It could not be true that that is the reason for the very low employment rate,” Herrera said.

According to the former senator, the employment rate is related to investments that generate employment opportunities, and government should invest more in infrastructure, including education (to build the human resource pool needed by businesses), energy (to ensure reasonably priced and stable supply of electricity) and agriculture (to ensure the availability of raw materials for businesses and generate jobs where most of the Filipinos find their livelihood).

“We need competitive costs of electricity, irrigation, farm-to-market roads, training,” Herrera said.

“The private sector will not invest if there is no sufficient justification, meaning they are not convinced that they can make money, because their motivation is profit,” he said.

* Herrera said the PIDS finding that 60 percent of unemployed were literate only showed that the economy has not been able to produce enough employment opportunities.

Another labor group slammed the PIDS study as “an alibi for the government and employers to reduce wages further” and a “guise for contractualization.”

“The present minimum wage levels are already below living standards, according to the NEDA, and yet they want to suppress it further,” said Gie Relova of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino.

Both TUCP and BMP representatives agreed that the labor sector has been at the losing end of the tripartite wage system.

“Our experience shows during wage increase deliberations that government and employer representatives gang up on the labor representative. Never has the government representative sided with the labor sector,” Relova said.

Herrera said this has been “normally the case, because democracy works through pressure and the greater pressure is exerted by business.”

FROM PHILSTAR

Gov’t pushes PPP Act to sustain infra gains beyond PNoy term By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 14, 2014 - 12:00am 5 2 googleplus0

MANILA, Philippines - The government is pushing for reforms to sustain the momentum of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects even after President Aquino steps down from office in June 2016.

PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said the government is pursuing the enactment of the PPP Act that would amend Republic Act 7718 or the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Law.

“The enactment of the PPP Act will ensure that the PPP program and the deal flow will continue in the next administration regardless of whoever takes over,” Canilao said.

She pointed out that the proposed PPP Act has already been forwarded to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“We hope both chambers will act on passing the law as it will be one of the major measures to ensure sustainability of our economic growth,” she added.

The rollout of PPP projects in the Philippines is in full swing after the award of seven projects worth close to P68 billion including the Daang Hari – South Luzon Expressway link road (P2 billion), PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase 1 (P8.86 billion), the PSIP-2 (P16.28 billion), the modernization project for the Philippine Orthopedic Center (P5.98 billion), the Ninoy Aquino International Airport expressway (P15.52 billion), the automated fare collection system project (P1.72 billion), and the Mactan – Cebu International Airport expansion project (P17.5 billion).

The award of the P65-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite extension project as well as the P35.4-billion Cavite – Laguna expressway project are now pending due to questions raised by losing and disqualified bidders.

The Aquino administration is set to roll out 18 PPP projects worth P407 billion before June next year as part of the inventory of over 50 projects in the pipeline.

The government has launched the biggest PPP project to date, the P123-billion Laguna Lakeshore expressway dike project; the P24.4-billion Bulacan Bulk Water supply project; the P4-billion Integrated Transport System (ITS) – South terminal; and the P2.5-billion ITS-Southwest terminal.

* It is set to roll out the PPP portion of the P265.3-billion North-South commuter rail worth close to P70 billion; the subway system Mass Transit loop (P132 billion); the operation and maintenance of Davao Airport (P39.7 billion), Iloilo Airport (P29.7 billion), Bacolod Airport (P19.8 billion), Laguindingan Airport (P14.3 billion), Puerto Princesa Airport (P5.01 billion), the new Bohol (Panglao) Airport (P2.28 billion), the Regional Prison Faciities through PPP (P39.4 billion), the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (P18.9 billion) and the Tanauan City public market (P381.2 million).

The government has yet to determine the cost of several projects including the San Fernando Airport, the Batangas-Manila natural gas pipeline, the Manila Bay-Pasig Ferry-Laguna lake ferry, and the proposed extension of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) all the way to Dasmariñas in Cavite instead of only Bacoor City under the P65-billion LRT-1 Cavite extension project.

Canilao said the robust pipeline of projects is due to the reforms the government initiated primarily by the establishment of the PDMF, the PPP Governing Board and the new project evaluation process wherein the PPP Center is the secretariat to the ICC for PPP projects.

“We are hoping to institutionalize these reforms on the proposed amendments to the BOT Law (PPP Act),” she added.

Moody’s Investor Service has cited the accelerating infrastructure projects under the PPP scheme of the Aquino administration.

Moody’s associate managing director Patrick Mispagel cited the expanding PPP market in the Philippines in a special comment titled “Global P3 Landscape,” providing a region-by-region round-up of major themes in infrastructure investment.

Mispagel noted the accelerating deal flow for PPP projects under the Aquino administration and the PPP Center despite the constraints on regulatory framework in the region.

“Despite these constraints, Moody’s report notes that the PPP markets in the Philippines and China are expanding, with deal flow accelerating in the Philippines under the current administration and its PPP Center,” he said in a statement.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

‘Pork’ inserted in AFP budget By Christine F. Herrera, Maricel V. Cruz and Florante S. Solmerin | Sep. 10, 2014 at 12:01am

Defense chief: DBM put P26b in discretionary funds


Gazmin

TO maintain the loyalty of the military brass, the Palace has inserted a special provision that allows the Armed Forces chief to “realign and re-prioritize” some P26.25 billion of its budget without congressional approval, turning it into one huge discretionary fund, Bayan Muna Rep. Isagani Carlos Zarate said Tuesday.

During a budget hearing of the House committee on appropriations, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin admitted it was not the Defense Department’s idea, but the Budget Department’s initiative to make the insertion.

The special provision would disregard the appropriation made by the Defense Department as proposed for approval and scrutiny by Congress, Zarate said.

In effect, it would allow the Armed Forces chief to disregard projects already approved by Congress and realign the budget by second quarter of the year, with realignments needing only the approval of the President, as recommended by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

“The insertion by the Budget Department of a special provision allowing the AFP chief of staff to re-prioritize and realign any item in its proposed 2015 budget will give the chief of the Armed Forces his own share of the anomalous pork barrel system,” Zarate said.

This is the second time that the Makabayan bloc has demanded that special insertions in the budget be deleted.

In the previous panel hearing, the Palace was also discovered to have inserted similar special provision on the budget of the co-equal branches – Congress and the judiciary and other constitutional bodies – directing them to report to the President the disbursement for unfilled positions amounting to P7.2 billion.

The lawmakers said the President is violating the judiciary’s fiscal autonomy and Congress’ power of the purse.

“This is not only the balkanization of the graft-ridden pork barrel among the heads of the different departments, but, this porky share is apparently to also ensure the loyalty of the AFP chief to the present administration,” Zarate said. “In short, the AFP chief of staff is given his own pork barrel in the budget.”

* Zarate said no previous budget bills carried such a special provision.

“If that provision is approved, a total allocation of P26.25 billion from the GHQ, AFP and AFP Wide Service Support Units appropriations can be transformed by the AFP chief of staff into his own pork barrel since he can realign the items covered in the second quarter of the year, without need for congressional approval,” Zarate said.

“The commander-in-chief, without regard for congressional scrutiny, legitimizes all the realignments in billions of [pesos in] public funds,” Zarate lamented.

Zarate also noted during the budget deliberation that the allocation for these appropriations increased by 131.6 percent compared to last year’s P11.316 billion.

Under the P26.25 billion allocation, the AFP general headquarters and the AFP wide service support units have a budget of P2.28 billion for personnel services or PS and P3.8 billion for maintenance operating and other expenses or MOOE for 2015.

The allocation for PS and MOOE of the Air Force is at P7.3 billion and P6.4 billion, respectively. The Army has P3.4 billion and P6.6 billion, and the Navy, P8.3 billion and P4.5 billion.

Budget Assistant Secretary Tina Canda said the similarly worded special provision was present in the budgets of all government agencies.

But Zarate insisted that the AFP’s new special provision insertion was not present in the budgets of previous years.

The Defense Department is asking Congress for a budget of P141.85 billion for 2015.

FROM PHILSTAR

Proposed Palace budget for 2015 lower by P223 M By Jess Diaz and Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 11, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The appropriations committee of the House of Representatives has endorsed a 2015 budget for President Aquino that is P223 million lower than this year’s funding.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, committee chairman, said yesterday Aquino himself proposed the reduction in the funding requirement for the Office of the President.

“We have to respect the President’s decision, though we have the power to restore the reduction and return the funding level for his office to what it is this year,” he said.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. told the Ungab committee Tuesday night that the OP budget would go down by eight percent from P2.791 billion this year to P2.568 billion in 2015.

Ochoa said provisions for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) would decrease from P1.998 billion to P1.911 billion or by P87 million, while capital (equipment) outlay would fall from P183.4 million to just P20 million, or by P163.4 million.

“The OP will have lower MOOE because of cost-saving measures like bulk procurement of supplies,” he said.

He said funding for salaries would go up by P28 million to P639.9 million due to increased personnel benefits.

According to a Commission on Audit report on salaries and allowances received by bureaucrats, the OP has scores of Cabinet-level officials, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries who were paid from P1.3 million to P1.8 million in 2013.

The highest-paid were Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Political Affairs Adviser Ronald Llamas, who received more than P1.8 million each.

Ochoa earned P1.780 million, which was slightly higher than presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s P1.761 million.

Llamas has remained with the OP despite being linked to a string of controversies, including his purchase of fake DVDs and the arrest of his driver and bodyguard for illegally carrying his AK-47 assault rifle.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Third-poorest in Southeast Asia? By Mahar Mangahas |Philippine Daily Inquirer12:08 am | Saturday, September 13th, 2014


FROM ECONOMIC TIMES: MANILA: (The Asian Development Bank developed the index with the Economist Intelligence Unit to give policymakers a tool to assess how best to foster innovation and creativity in 22 Asian economies.) A new index ranks Japan and South Korea as most efficient among Asian countries in turning the building blocks of creativity into tangible innovations that benefit industry and the public while Myanmar, Pakistan and Cambodia are least efficient. The Asian Development Bank developed the index with the Economist Intelligence Unit to give policymakers a tool to assess how best to foster innovation and creativity in 22 Asian economies. The United States and Finland are included for comparison.


By Mahar Mangahas

From 2005 to 2010, the Philippines went from fifth-poorest to third-poorest country in Southeast Asia, as estimated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with a new “Asian regional poverty line” of $1.51/person/day (ppp, 2005 prices), as published in its August 2014 special report, “Poverty in Asia: A Deeper Look.”

In 2005, the five poorest countries, per the ADB report, were: 1. Lao People’s Democratic Republic (54.1 percent of the population poor), 2. Cambodia (45.5 percent), 3. Vietnam (35.6 percent), 4. Indonesia (32.9 percent), and 5. the Philippines (30.9 percent). Then came 6. Thailand (2.5 percent) and 7. Malaysia (0.9 percent). The report includes only seven Southeast Asian countries.

In 2010, on the other hand, the poorest country was Lao PDR (38.1 percent poor), followed by Indonesia (28.0 percent) and the Philippines (25.9 percent). Thus, both Vietnam and Cambodia overtook the Philippines in poverty reduction.

Here is the full ADB table of poverty estimates for Southeast Asia:

* Percent of population poor in Southeast Asia, at an “Asian poverty line” of $1.51/person/day (ppp, 2005 prices)

2005 - 2008 - 2010

Southeast Asia 27.9 26.0 22.0

Cambodia 45.5 34.4 25.4

Indonesia 32.9 34.6 28.0

Lao PDR 54.1 46.7 38.1

Malaysia 0.9 0.4 0.4

Philippines 30.9 27.9 26.9

Thailand 2.5 1.2 1.1

Vietnam 35.6 25.7 22.4

Source: ADB, Key indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014, Table 2.2, p. 11

In all countries, the table shows the poverty rate lower in 2010 than in 2005. There was an intermediate drop in poverty from 2005 to 2008 in all countries, except Indonesia.

But the total 2005-2010 drop in the Philippines was only 4.0 points, or much less than the drops of 20.1 points in Cambodia and 13.2 points in Vietnam. Hence, Cambodia and Vietnam overtook the Philippines.

My earlier piece, “ADB on Asian poverty” (Opinion, 8/30/2014), discussed the ADB’s proposed Asian regional poverty line of $1.51/person/day, to replace the $1.25/person/day conventionally used in global poverty analysis. (The dollar amounts are in terms of purchasing power parity [ppp] as of 2005. One ppp dollar is worth what one dollar could buy in the United States in the base year.)

Changing from African to Asian standards. The ADB reasoned that the conventional $1.25 had come from official poverty lines of the 15 world’s poorest countries, 13 of which are African. To create an Asian poverty line of $1.51, it used the official lines of the nine least developed Asian countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Pakistan, the Solomon Islands, and Tajikistan—though I wonder why it excluded the lines of India (55.8 percent poor, based on $1.51) and Papua New Guinea (55.3 percent).

The ADB says: “Altering the poverty line did not change poverty trends for the region or individual countries, nor did it signify any change in people’s actual living standards. It just raises recognition of how many people in the region remain impoverished.”

Yet the ADB’s altering of the cross-country poverty line did change the picture very much with respect to the Philippines relative to its neighbors. It made the Philippines look like Juan Tamad in terms of reducing poverty.

In 2005, the poverty distance from Lao PDR to the Philippines was 23.2 points (54.1 minus 30.9).

By 2010 this distance was cut to only 11.2 points (38.1 minus 26.9). At this pace, Lao PDR will catch up with the Philippines by 2015.

In 2005, the poverty distance from Indonesia to the Philippines was 2.0 points (32.9 minus 30.9).

By 2010 this distance was only 1.2 points (28.0 minus 26.9). At this pace, Indonesia will also catch up with the Philippines by 2015, and there will be a triple tie with Lao PDR for the tag of poorest country of Southeast Asia.

Other poverty line adjustments. The ADB also made poverty lines adjusted for: (a) food insecurity, due to high fluctuations of food prices, and (b) vulnerability of the poor to shocks like natural disasters, climate change, illness and economic crises. (These are separate from the adjustment from the “African” $1.25 to the “Asian” $1.51.)

The results for the Philippines are:

Percent of population poor in the Philippines at other poverty lines

  2005 2008 2010
Food-insecurity-adjusted
 22.2
20.9 20.3
Vulnerability-adjusted 30.0 27.0 26.4

Source: ADB, Key indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014, pages 18 and 30.

With the food-security-adjusted line alone, the Philippines is the fourth-poorest in Southeast Asia, in both 2005 and 2010—with Indonesia fifth-poorest in 2005, and Vietnam third-poorest in 2010. With the vulnerability-adjusted line alone, it is fourth-poorest in 2005 (with Vietnam fifth-poorest), and third-poorest in 2010.

Should we compete with other countries’ poverty figures? To me, it is valuable to observe other countries’ poverty rates over time.

Why are some improving faster than we are? Let us learn from the successes and failures of our neighbors.

But comparing countries at a single point in time is something else. I think that the people—who are distinct from the government—of every country have their own minimum living standards.

No people in Asia need to subscribe to an “Asian standard.” For instance, I do not take too literally the statistical absence of poverty in Thailand or Malaysia, per the ADB report.

It is for Filipinos, Thais and Malaysians to assess the realism of external reports on poverty in their countries.

STANDARD OPINION

The poorer life of Filipinos Tony Lopez Aug. 22, 2014 at 12:01am

The other day (August 20), at the Crowne Plaza, before a distinguished group of diplomats, cabinet members, human development experts, economists and public servants, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan was supposed to report on the status of the Philippines’ human development, or lack of it.

But the litany of data was so bad Arsi didn’t even bother to read his own speech. He let a mere statistician do the honors for him.

According to the concept of human development, humans or people are the real wealth of the nation. People must come first, before the economy. And so in 1990, the world decided to work on improving the human condition, based on eight parameters or goals. Thus was born the so-called eight Millennium Development Goals. A target year was set, 2015, to achieve goals of a longer and better life, better education, higher income, and smaller gap between the very rich and the very poor.

To determine the ranking of countries in terms of human development, a Human Development Index (HDI) was designed. The lower the number of its rank, the higher is the degree of a country’s human development, the better is the living standard of its people

The Philippines is a big country. With 100 million Filipinos, it is No. 12 in population. No. 12 out of more than 200 countries – that’s big. In terms of the size of its economy or Gross Domestic Product ($272 billion in nominal US dollars), the Philippines is No. 39. Among 200 countries, the country is in the top 20 percent in size of economy. That means the Philippines is upper middle class.

In human development thus, you would expect the Philippines to be ranked in the Top 40, at least, its population being No. 12 in the world, and its GDP No. 39, in the world.

The real score: The Philippines is No. 117 out of 187 countries ranked in 2013. We are in the lowest 40 percent, not in the Top 40. We are in basketball terms, a cellar dweller.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos points out that war-torn Libya, which has no working government, ranks much, much higher than the Philippines—No. 55. FVR credits reforms under the Gaffafi regime for Libya’s HDI ranking today.

Over the past 14 years, the Philippines has steadily declined in HDI ranking—from 70th in 2001 to 84th in 2005, 90th in 2008, 97th in 2010, 112th in 2011, 114th in 2012, and 117th in 2013. That’s a precipitous drop of 47 rungs.

Under BS Aquino, the Philippines’s HDI ranking dropped by 20 rungs, from 97th to 117th, 43 percent of the total drop in 14 years. In effect, compared to other nationals in the world, the quality of life of the Filipino deteriorated by 43 percent under BS Aquino’s watch. Filipinos were more than twice better off in quality of life before BS Aquino became president.

This year, out of a possible 8 perfect score in the MDG, the Philippines scored only 1. That’s a 15 percent achievement. In classroom terms, the Philipines is bobo (stupid), bano (incompetent), wa-class (not world class). How could that happen to one of the largest nations on earth, to the 39th richest nation in the world?

Only one answer: Bad governance.

Our leaders steal taxpayers’ money intended to improve the Filipino human condition. Think of PDAP (Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel which is P25 billion yearly) or the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP, which per one admission, is P149 billion).

DAP is the personal checking account of President BS Aquino which is funded with taxpayers’ money. He used it to bribe senators to remove a sitting chief justice, bribe enemies of the state (billions were given to Cordillera rebels, P1.5 billion; Muslim separatists, P1.8 billion; ARMM P8.6 billion), bribe Congress (P250 million was given for Congress library, as if congressmen bothered to read), and bribe even the Commission on Audit (P143.7 million was given to buy computers and hire “litigation experts”; COA probably expects to be sued after receiving “unclean” money). If you want to read the extend of misuse of DAP money, go to the Supreme Court website.

* On second thought, BS Aquino probably thinks it is cheaper to bribe the rebels than killing them with bullets. Half of the army and half of the defense budget are assigned to Mindanao, the hotbed of insurgency. About 56 of every 100 people in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) earn $1 or less a day—the highest poverty incidence in the country.

In 1991, poverty incidence in the ARMM was only 30.5 percent, below the national average then of 34.4 percent. Today, national poverty incidence is 25.2 percent, while poverty incidence in the ARMM is 55.8 percent—almost double the 1991 figure, after 42 years of fighting. Every year, since Fidel Ramos’s time, the ARMM received P20 billion or more in budget. That’s P500 billion of money wasted or pocketed by ARMM politicians.

For the whole country, the situation is worsening. While economic growth is rising, growth in employment is declining. Normally, when the economy is rising, employment should also be rising.

In 2010, the economy grew by 7.6 percent but employment grew by just 2.8 percent; in 2011, economic growth was 3.6 percent while employment growth was 3.2 percent; in 2012 the economy was up 6.8 percent while employment was up just 1.1 percent; in 2013, the economy was up 6.8 percent but employment growth was even lower, 0.8 percent —the lowest growth in 15 years.

Clearly, economic growth makes no sense. It does not create jobs.

On another front, only 52 mothers out of every 100,000 giving birth should die by today. That’s MDG target No. 5. Today, 221 mothers die while giving birth, four times worse than target and even worse than the fatality figure in 1990 when the target of 52 was set—209.

Given the bleak human development achievements, or lack of it, I am not surprised Arsi Balisacan failed to read his own speech.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE