FEWER PINOYS SEE BETTER ECONOMY   

SEPT 23 ---Fewer Filipinos expect the economy to get better in the next 12 months, a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed. The Second Quarter 2014 Social Weather Survey showed 26 percent of Filipinos remained optimistic that the general Philippine economy would get better next year, while 24 percent said it would deteriorate, for a net optimism score of 2. SWS said this was seven points below the high 9 (28 percent optimistic, 19 percent pessimistic) in the previous quarter. This was the lowest net economic optimism score under the Aquino administration since net zero in December 2009, the SWS noted.

“The seven-point decline in national net optimism about the economy was due to decreases of seven points in Mindanao and four points in Metro Manila, combined with an increase of six points in the Visayas and a steady score in balance Luzon,” the pollster said. Net optimism about the economy rose by one grade from high to very high in the Visayas, from 7 in March to 13 in June. However, it fell by one grade from very high to high in Mindanao, from 14 in March to 7 in June. It fell by one grade from high to fair in balance Luzon, from 8 in March to -1 in June. It fell by three grades from very high to mediocre in Metro Manila, down sharply by 24 points from 10 to -14, the lowest since -18 in February 2009. Meanwhile, the survey found 39 percent of Filipino adults expecting their personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months and eight percent expecting it to get worse, for a net personal optimism score of 31. * READ MORE...

ALSO: WB okays $300-M loan for Phl gov’t reforms  

SEPT 28 ---The World Bank has approved a $300-million loan for the Philippines in support of government reforms needed to promote inclusive growth and strengthen the creation of jobs. In a statement, the World Bank said this new development policy loan (DPL) is intended to support the government’s programs in raising infrastructure investments, education, social services to aid the poor, lowering the cost of doing business to create more jobs, and for fiscal transparency. DPLs, which provide quick-disbursing assistance to countries, support policy and institutional reforms in order to make an environment for sustainable and equitable growth, based on the country’s own development agenda, the World Bank said.

“The Philippines continues to reap the results of its diligent efforts to achieve inclusive growth. The World Bank is pleased to ramp up support for accelerating reforms through this new assistance and other programs,” World Bank country director Motoo Konishi said. “Implementation of important infrastructure projects, improving the investment climate for small and medium enterprises, increasing investment in the health and education of poor families, and greater government transparency and good governance are concrete measures for enhancing growth that creates jobs and reduces poverty,” he added. The new financing will support the construction of more farm-to-market roads, the improvement of thoroughfares in tourism areas, and the simplification of registration and licensing procedures in order to encourage the creation of more small and medium enterprises,

The loan will also help update the National Household Targeting System to enable more qualified poor families to be enrolled under the government’s social welfare programs and expand the coverage of the conditional cash transfer program so more children up to 18 years of age will finish high school. At the same time, the World Bank said the financing will support the implementation of key fiscal reforms and reforms meant to standardize budget, expenditure, audit and reporting classifications for agencies. The World Bank added this borrowing also supports the Open Data Initiative through data.gov.ph, which will allow the general public to access 600 data sets from different government agencies. “The government sees transparency around the use of public resources as fundamental to institutionalizing governance reforms. By making government data available to the general public, the government can get better feedback from citizens on how it can best deliver social services while making those in public service more accountable,” Kai Kaiser, senior economist at the World Bank, said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: In Boston PNoy makes pitch on PH growth 

SEPT 23 --President Aquino told the Filipino-American community and college students in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday the Philippines remained as the fastest growing economy in Asia and his focus was to foster its sustainability in the next few years. He said economic growth was brought about by balancing the economy more on investments compared with the previous administration’s consumer-driven growth fueled by remittances from overseas workers. “Since 2010, our economy has been growing at an average of 6.3 percent, and last year, we posted an economic growth of 7.2 percent, making us one of the fastest growing economies in our part of the world,” he said in a speech in Boston College.

The Philippines has jumped from 85th place in 2010 to 52nd in 2014 in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report. It was the biggest jump by any country in that time frame. Credit rating agencies --- Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor --- upgraded the Philippines to investment grade in 2013. It reduced the cost of borrowing and reinforced confidence of investors to put their money in the Philippines. Aquino, citing the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and the imprisonment of former President Gloria Arroyo, said the battle against corruption will also be sustained. But social services and protection was still a major thrust of his administration and, so far, 4.1 million poor families have committed to vaccinate their children, keep them in school and send pregnant mothers to regular check-ups under the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer program, Aquino said. “And we are not satisfied. The government continues to work to ensure that citizens not only surpass the poverty line and find gainful employment, but also are shielded from once again falling below it again,” Aquino said. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Aquino to NY business gathering: Phl economy keeps getting better 

SEPT 25 --It has all been rosy for the economy in the past four years and “it just keeps getting
better” for the country as it continues to reap the fruits of reforms and good governance, President Aquino told a gathering of chief executive officers and business groups here Tuesday. “You will be glad to hear: The good news never gets old because it just keeps getting better for the Philippines,” Aquino said in a roundtable discussion with CEOs and senior officials from the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council at the Julliard Ballroom of the Omni Berkshire Hotel here.

“Today, the Philippines is an even better country in which to do business,” he said. “It is indeed my hope that you have come here with the determination to build on your success in the Philippines – or to explore new avenues in pursuit of the same.” “Our commitment to institute good governance and fight corruption has not flagged; we continue to implement reforms in order to ensure a significant return on each peso we spend for government’s programs and projects,” Aquino said. He cited the gains his administration has achieved in the area of competitiveness, with no less than the World Economic Forum rating Manila as the most improved in terms of competitiveness since 2010. “The credit ratings upgrades we have received have not only put the Philippines at investment grade; they have also made us, as J.P. Morgan says, the most upgraded sovereign credit in the region in recent years,” Aquino said. * READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion on economy: WB head on PH economy: Praise and caution 

SEPT 23  Ranking officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who visit Manila somehow feel a compulsion to go overboard and say glowing things about the performance of the Philippine economy. Current WB president Jim Yong Kim did not break with this practice on his recent visit to this country a few weeks ago. President Jim went overboard and was effusive in his remarks about the Philippine economy’s performance. Naturally, the remarks pleased PNoy Aquino and his economic managers no end and disconcerted those—especially the community of economic analysts —who believe that the time has not come to open the champagne bottles and drink toasts to the status and near-term prospects of the Philippine economy.

A leading Manila daily reported president Jim’s remarks, delivered in the course of the “Daylight Dialogue with the World Bank President” in Malacañang, in a headline story. The story was “World Bank Hails PH as Next Asian Miracle.” Among other things, Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American, said that the World Bank was “… absolutely certain that the impact of [the Aquino] administration will be felt far beyond the six years that [Aquino] has as President … Can the Philippines be the next Asian miracle? [After] coming here, I think that there is no question that is the case.” These are almost exactly the same views by ranking WB officials who visited Manila during the administrations of Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In one or two instances the words “tiger cub” and “economic tiger” were used repeatedly.

On what factor did president Jim base his prediction of next-Asian-miracle status for the Philippines? Why haven’t the predictions made by earlier WB visitors materialized? The World Bank chief mentioned “the [reform] path that [Aquino is] on”, Mr. Aquino’s “anti-graft campaign,” the “grassroots movements for transparency, accountability and citizen empowerment,” “strong economic fundamentals and prudent monetary policies” and “the young workforce.” Allow me to comment on each of those factors in turn. The WB chief’s statement about this country’s strong economic fundamentals and prudent monetary policies were accurate. What he should have said something about, but didn’t, was the very substantial and sustained inflow of foreign exchange on account of the hard work and privations of the millions of Filipinos involved in the Philippine Diaspora of the last four decades.

This inflow has allowed the monetary and fiscal authorities—especially those who manage the nation’s debt—to take a far more relaxed and complacent attitude towards domestic and external rates and foreign exchange rates. In other words, the task of maintaining “strong economic fundamentals and prudent monetary policies” would have been far more difficult if there were no sustained torrent of interest-free foreign exchange —now running at the annual rate of approximately $20 billion—on account of OFW (overseas Filipino worker) remittances. On the issue of reforms, Jim Yong Kim had this to say to his Malacañang audience: “I will just say … maintain these reforms, continue on the path that you’re on, and I think the future is very bright for the Philippines.”

Ironically, below the headline story on Jim’s economic-miracle prediction was a story titled “Customs Leaked Report on Falling Collection.” The latter item ended with this paragraph: “Further study or analysis should be conducted on [the report’s] data to determine the glaring discrepancy in the volume of dutiable imports vis-à-vis non-dutiable imports.” Year on year, dutiable imports decreased by 4.5 percent, and non-dutiable imports increased by 36.3 percent, during the five-month period ended May 2014.

The WB president apparently was not informed that the charging and detention of three senators was not the result of an Aquino administration initiative but was the accidental outcome of an illegal detention case filed against the alleged mastermind of a government-budget scam operation. The removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona was a campaign against one magistrate, not the beginning of an effort to cleanse an entire branch of the Philippine government. * READ MORE...

ALSO Part 2 -WB head on PH economy: Praise and caution 

SEPT 25 --At the top of the list of possible prediction-defeating things mentioned by World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim was the extent of poverty in the Philippines. This country had huge economic potential, the president said, but he noted that “in the Philippines one-quarter of the roughly 100 million people live in deep poverty.”  Muslim Mindanao remained one of the poorest regions in this country, the visitor from Washington further noted. In that region “development [had been] held back by four decades of conflict between separatist rebels and government forces.” The poverty rate in Muslim Mindanao, at 50 percent, was more than twice the national average.

Another possible derailer of Jim Yong Kim’s the-Philippines-will-be-the-next-Asian-miracle was inadequacy of infrastructure, including education and health infrastructure. There was a need, he said, for “laying the foundations for … economic growth in the future.” Spending on health and education was “extremely important,” the head of the world’s largest development financing institution said. He noted that this had doubled under the Aquino administration. Jim said that $119 million in aid financing would be made available to the Philippine government for the construction of farm-to-market roads, bridges, communal irrigation systems and potable water sources in ARMM (the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao). This program would be expanded, he said. * READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Fewer Pinoys see better economy

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores September 23, 2014 - Fewer Filipinos expect the economy to get better in the next 12 months, a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.

The Second Quarter 2014 Social Weather Survey showed 26 percent of Filipinos remained optimistic that the general Philippine economy would get better next year, while 24 percent said it would deteriorate, for a net optimism score of 2.

SWS said this was seven points below the high 9 (28 percent optimistic, 19 percent pessimistic) in the previous quarter.

This was the lowest net economic optimism score under the Aquino administration since net zero in December 2009, the SWS noted.

“The seven-point decline in national net optimism about the economy was due to decreases of seven points in Mindanao and four points in Metro Manila, combined with an increase of six points in the Visayas and a steady score in balance Luzon,” the pollster said.

Net optimism about the economy rose by one grade from high to very high in the Visayas, from 7 in March to 13 in June.

However, it fell by one grade from very high to high in Mindanao, from 14 in March to 7 in June.

It fell by one grade from high to fair in balance Luzon, from 8 in March to -1 in June.

It fell by three grades from very high to mediocre in Metro Manila, down sharply by 24 points from 10 to -14, the lowest since -18 in February 2009.

Meanwhile, the survey found 39 percent of Filipino adults expecting their personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months and eight percent expecting it to get worse, for a net personal optimism score of 31.

* This was up by one grade from the 29 (38 percent optimists, nine percent pessimists) in March 2014.

The survey research institute said very high net personal optimism was recorded in Metro Manila, balance Luzon and Mindanao.

The two-point rise in national net personal optimism from a high 29 to a very high 31 was due to increases of seven points in Mindanao, four points in Metro Manila and three points in the Visayas, combined with a steady score in balance Luzon.

It said very high net personal optimism scores were registered in classes ABC and D, and high in class E.

On the change in personal quality of life compared to 12 months ago, the June 2014 survey found that 22 percent said their lives improved and 37 percent said it worsened, for a mediocre net gainers score of -14.

WB okays $300-M loan for Phl gov’t reforms By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2014 - 12:00am 2 66 googleplus2 1

MANILA, Philippines - The World Bank has approved a $300-million loan for the Philippines in support of government reforms needed to promote inclusive growth and strengthen the creation of jobs.

In a statement, the World Bank said this new development policy loan (DPL) is intended to support the government’s programs in raising infrastructure investments, education, social services to aid the poor, lowering the cost of doing business to create more jobs, and for fiscal transparency.

DPLs, which provide quick-disbursing assistance to countries, support policy and institutional reforms in order to make an environment for sustainable and equitable growth, based on the country’s own development agenda, the World Bank said.

“The Philippines continues to reap the results of its diligent efforts to achieve inclusive growth. The World Bank is pleased to ramp up support for accelerating reforms through this new assistance and other programs,” World Bank country director Motoo Konishi said.

“Implementation of important infrastructure projects, improving the investment climate for small and medium enterprises, increasing investment in the health and education of poor families, and greater government transparency and good governance are concrete measures for enhancing growth that creates jobs and reduces poverty,” he added.

The new financing will support the construction of more farm-to-market roads, the improvement of thoroughfares in tourism areas, and the simplification of registration and licensing procedures in order to encourage the creation of more small and medium enterprises,

The loan will also help update the National Household Targeting System to enable more qualified poor families to be enrolled under the government’s social welfare programs and expand the coverage of the conditional cash transfer program so more children up to 18 years of age will finish high school.

At the same time, the World Bank said the financing will support the implementation of key fiscal reforms and reforms meant to standardize budget, expenditure, audit and reporting classifications for agencies.

The World Bank added this borrowing also supports the Open Data Initiative through data.gov.ph, which will allow the general public to access 600 data sets from different government agencies.

“The government sees transparency around the use of public resources as fundamental to institutionalizing governance reforms. By making government data available to the general public, the government can get better feedback from citizens on how it can best deliver social services while making those in public service more accountable,” Kai Kaiser, senior economist at the World Bank, said.

* He added the government is expected to improve other portals in promoting budget transparency and public spending such as OpenReconstruction, which provides information on government reconstruction efforts; OpenRoad, which carries data on tourist areas and farm-to-market roads; and OpenLGU, which will require local government units to post financial and procurement information online for greater transparency.

Philippine economic growth quickened to 6.4 percent in the second quarter from 5.6 percent in the first three months of the year. However, the first half expansion only settled at six percent, lower than the government’s 6.5 to 7.5 percent target.

“Reforms in the last several years have yielded strong growth and macroeconomic stability for the country, leading to significant job creation and poverty reduction. But we can do much more to generate more and better jobs and bring millions of Filipinos out of poverty,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said in a statement.

“Support for these reforms from the international community as well as the different sectors of society will help the country consolidate these gains and sustain the reform momentum to make them irreversible,” he added.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

In Boston PNoy makes pitch on PH growth
By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Sep. 23, 2014 at 12:01am


Welcome. President Benigno Aquino III is welcomed by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg at the St. Ignatius Church in the Boston College campus, where Aquino attended Mass with the Filipino community. Aquino is in the US for a five-day working visit. Malacañang Photo Bureau

President Aquino told the Filipino-American community and college students in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday the Philippines remained as the fastest growing economy in Asia and his focus was to foster its sustainability in the next few years.

He said economic growth was brought about by balancing the economy more on investments compared with the previous administration’s consumer-driven growth fueled by remittances from overseas workers.

“Since 2010, our economy has been growing at an average of 6.3 percent, and last year, we posted an economic growth of 7.2 percent, making us one of the fastest growing economies in our part of the world,” he said in a speech in Boston College.

The Philippines has jumped from 85th place in 2010 to 52nd in 2014 in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report. It was the biggest jump by any country in that time frame.

Credit rating agencies --- Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor --- upgraded the Philippines to investment grade in 2013. It reduced the cost of borrowing and reinforced confidence of investors to put their money in the Philippines.

Aquino, citing the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and the imprisonment of former President Gloria Arroyo, said the battle against corruption will also be sustained.

But social services and protection was still a major thrust of his administration and, so far, 4.1 million poor families have committed to vaccinate their children, keep them in school and send pregnant mothers to regular check-ups under the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer program, Aquino said.

“And we are not satisfied. The government continues to work to ensure that citizens not only surpass the poverty line and find gainful employment, but also are shielded from once again falling below it again,” Aquino said.

* After several decades of war, peace is evident in Mindanao and his administration has submitted to Congress a draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law after a peace agreement was signed into law in March last year, he said.

“Our achievements thus far are merely the beginning of a new era of transformation,” he said, adding that current reforms have shifted the Filipino mindset from indifference and despair to having feelings of hope for Filipinos to dream again.

Aquino thanked Boston College and Filipino-Americans for their assistance to survivors of Typhoon Yolanda and said “without the help of our friends in the international community, the path to recovery and rehabilitation would not have been traversed as early and as efficiently.”

“I would like to thank you for your generosity and kindness. The compassion expressed by donors from Boston is similar to core Filipino values that remain to be a shining example of the best that humanity has to offer,” he said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Aquino in NY business gathering: Phl economy keeps getting better By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 25, 2014 - 12:00am 1 11 googleplus1 0

NEW YORK – It has all been rosy for the economy in the past four years and “it just keeps getting better” for the country as it continues to reap the fruits of reforms and good governance, President Aquino told a gathering of chief executive officers and business groups here Tuesday.

“You will be glad to hear: The good news never gets old because it just keeps getting better for the Philippines,” Aquino said in a roundtable discussion with CEOs and senior officials from the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council at the Julliard Ballroom of the Omni Berkshire Hotel here.

“Today, the Philippines is an even better country in which to do business,” he said. “It is indeed my hope that you have come here with the determination to build on your success in the Philippines – or to explore new avenues in pursuit of the same.”

“Our commitment to institute good governance and fight corruption has not flagged; we continue to implement reforms in order to ensure a significant return on each peso we spend for government’s programs and projects,” Aquino said.

He cited the gains his administration has achieved in the area of competitiveness, with no less than the World Economic Forum rating Manila as the most improved in terms of competitiveness since 2010.

“The credit ratings upgrades we have received have not only put the Philippines at investment grade; they have also made us, as J.P. Morgan says, the most upgraded sovereign credit in the region in recent years,” Aquino said.

* There was also a noticeable increase in key industries, he pointed out.

“The information technology-business process management industry remains one of our strongest industries, recording a $6.6-billion increase in revenues, from $8.9 billion in 2010 to $15.5 billion in 2013,” he said.

“Manufacturing has completely rebounded: with growth accelerating from 5.4 percent in 2012 to 10.3 percent in 2013. This is not to mention the other sectors worthy of note, including tourism, agriculture and infrastructure,” he said.

The Chief Executive also vowed to continue his administration’s “massive investments” in social services aimed at empowering Filipinos and making them “active participants in building our economy, and the nation, as well.”

“My administration’s agenda of empowerment is even more significant, in light of the fact that the Philippines is poised to hit a demographic sweet spot next year,” Aquino emphasized.

He based his assessment on a UN projection that in 2015 a “majority of our people will reach working age – which means that there will be an abundance of talent and creativity in the workforce, ready to spur your businesses to success.”

Earlier in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aquino told students of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government that they could take lessons from the Philippines’ example and application of good governance.

In his policy speech, he said he is determined to make the most until the end of his term in 2016.

“Our challenge today is to make the gains even greater, and to ensure that the transformation becomes an enduring mainstream of justice and inclusiveness,” Aquino said.

“It is my hope that our experiences will motivate those like you, from the other side of the world, to be influencers, who in turn will inspire the communities and institutions with whom you will interact,” he said.

He emphasized that leaders must not be afraid to do what is right, even in the face of widespread criticism or opposition, as giving up would mean allowing the shameless and the unscrupulous to have control over the fate of everyone.

He also told Harvard students that some of his Cabinet officials attended the prestigious institution, among them Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his daughter Julia who heads the Presidential Management Staff, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and food security czar Francis Pangilinan.

Bases Conversion Development Authority chief executive officer Arnel Casanova and the late interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo were also fellows of the university.

MANILA STANDARD OPINION

WB head on PH economy: Praise and caution  By Rudy Romero | Sep. 23, 2014 at 12:01am


Rodolfo (Rudy) Romero comes to the business section of Manila Standard Today with the credentials of an economist, legal practitioner and journalist. Educated at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Ateneo Law School, Romero has served with a number of leading financial institutions in this country, including the Central Bank of the Philippines, the Asian Development Bank, the Development Bank of the Philippines and PDCP (Private Development Corporation of the Philippines). Romero is a practicing lawyer specializing in corporations, banking and investments. He teaches at the Ateneo Law School and several other schools of law.

Ranking officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who visit Manila somehow feel a compulsion to go overboard and say glowing things about the performance of the Philippine economy. Current WB president Jim Yong Kim did not break with this practice on his recent visit to this country a few weeks ago.

President Jim went overboard and was effusive in his remarks about the Philippine economy’s performance. Naturally, the remarks pleased PNoy Aquino and his economic managers no end and disconcerted those—especially the community of economic analysts —who believe that the time has not come to open the champagne bottles and drink toasts to the status and near-term prospects of the Philippine economy.

A leading Manila daily reported president Jim’s remarks, delivered in the course of the “Daylight Dialogue with the World Bank President” in Malacañang, in a headline story. The story was “World Bank Hails PH as Next Asian Miracle.”

Among other things, Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American, said that the World Bank was “… absolutely certain that the impact of [the Aquino] administration will be felt far beyond the six years that [Aquino] has as President … Can the Philippines be the next Asian miracle? [After] coming here, I think that there is no question that is the case.”

These are almost exactly the same views by ranking WB officials who visited Manila during the administrations of Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In one or two instances the words “tiger cub” and “economic tiger” were used repeatedly.

On what factor did president Jim base his prediction of next-Asian-miracle status for the Philippines? Why haven’t the predictions made by earlier WB visitors materialized? The World Bank chief mentioned “the [reform] path that [Aquino is] on”, Mr. Aquino’s “anti-graft campaign,” the “grassroots movements for transparency, accountability and citizen empowerment,” “strong economic fundamentals and prudent monetary policies” and “the young workforce.”

Allow me to comment on each of those factors in turn.

The WB chief’s statement about this country’s strong economic fundamentals and prudent monetary policies were accurate.

What he should have said something about, but didn’t, was the very substantial and sustained inflow of foreign exchange on account of the hard work and privations of the millions of Filipinos involved in the Philippine Diaspora of the last four decades.

This inflow has allowed the monetary and fiscal authorities—especially those who manage the nation’s debt—to take a far more relaxed and complacent attitude towards domestic and external rates and foreign exchange rates.

In other words, the task of maintaining “strong economic fundamentals and prudent monetary policies” would have been far more difficult if there were no sustained torrent of interest-free foreign exchange —now running at the annual rate of approximately $20 billion—on account of OFW (overseas Filipino worker) remittances.

On the issue of reforms, Jim Yong Kim had this to say to his Malacañang audience: “I will just say … maintain these reforms, continue on the path that you’re on, and I think the future is very bright for the Philippines.”

Ironically, below the headline story on Jim’s economic-miracle prediction was a story titled “Customs Leaked Report on Falling Collection.”

The latter item ended with this paragraph: “Further study or analysis should be conducted on [the report’s] data to determine the glaring discrepancy in the volume of dutiable imports vis-à-vis non-dutiable imports.”

Year on year, dutiable imports decreased by 4.5 percent, and non-dutiable imports increased by 36.3 percent, during the five-month period ended May 2014.

The WB president apparently was not informed that the charging and detention of three senators was not the result of an Aquino administration initiative but was the accidental outcome of an illegal detention case filed against the alleged mastermind of a government-budget scam operation.

The removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona was a campaign against one magistrate, not the beginning of an effort to cleanse an entire branch of the Philippine government.

* Neither, obviously, was the WB head aware that President Aquino has steadfastly refused, despite strong universal pressure, to push for the approval by Congress of the freedom of information bill that has been in the legislative mill for close to 20 years.

Yet, Jim Yong Kim praised the Aquino administration for “transparency, accountability and citizen empowerment.”

How can the citizenry experience these things without a Freedom of Information Act that gives them access to non-confidential government data?

Finally, the “young workforce”.

This is a double-edged sword that can cut either way. A young workforce can be an economic miracle-producing factor if an economy is growing in a broad-based and consistent manner, but it can be a major drag on economic growth if millions of workers 25 years old and below are persistently unable to find remunerative employment.

The latter is the case in the Philippines: unemployed young workers comprise the largest part of total unemployment.

While declaring his remarks that the Philippines can be the next Asian economic miracle, the president of the world’s largest development financing institution cited a number of things that, ironically, could operate to prevent the attainment of such a felicitous outcome. (To be continued...)

MANILA STANDARD OPINION

PART 2 --WB head on PH economy: Praise and caution  By Rudy Romero | Sep. 25, 2014 at 12:01am


By Rudy Romero

(Continued from Tuesday)

At the top of the list of possible prediction-defeating things mentioned by World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim was the extent of poverty in the Philippines.

This country had huge economic potential, the president said, but he noted that “in the Philippines one-quarter of the roughly 100 million people live in deep poverty.”

Muslim Mindanao remained one of the poorest regions in this country, the visitor from Washington further noted.

In that region “development [had been] held back by four decades of conflict between separatist rebels and government forces.”

The poverty rate in Muslim Mindanao, at 50 percent, was more than twice the national average.

Another possible derailer of Jim Yong Kim’s the-Philippines-will-be-the-next-Asian-miracle was inadequacy of infrastructure, including education and health infrastructure. There was a need, he said, for “laying the foundations for … economic growth in the future.”

Spending on health and education was “extremely important,” the head of the world’s largest development financing institution said. He noted that this had doubled under the Aquino administration.

Jim said that $119 million in aid financing would be made available to the Philippine government for the construction of farm-to-market roads, bridges, communal irrigation systems and potable water sources in ARMM (the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao). This program would be expanded, he said.

* In addition, the World Bank would provide fresh financing for the Philippine Rural Development Project.

Under the PRDP, the Philippine government would grant $508 million in concessional loans for projects intended to raise rural incomes, Jim said. For its part, the World Bank Group’s investment arm, International Finance Corp., was working on projects intended to generate 6,000 new jobs in Mindanao.

Corruption apparently also was very much in the mind of the World Bank Group’s chief executive officer during his visit to this country.

“Among the most important things you can do is tackle corruption,” he told his audience. Tackling corruption was one of “the right thing(s) to do,” he said.

Finally, Jim Yong Kim adverted to the conflict in Muslim Mindanao. The conflict had held back development in that region. “[The World Bank] will support the peace process in the conflict-affected area,” he said.

Thus, while he believed that the Philippines had the potential to become Asia’s next economic miracle, the head of the world’s premier development financing group was cognizant of factors —widespread poverty, inadequacy of infrastructure, political instability in Muslim Mindanao and corruption—that singly or in combination could negate that potential.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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