CHAFF FROM THE GRAIN
“The public be damned! I’m working for my stockholders.” – William H. Vanderbilt
The harsh imposition of lockdowns is the easy part while the downside effects on the economy are incalculable and debilitating – which government enforcers tend to underestimate or overlook.
Simultaneously, there appears to be a frenzied effort by profit-driven businessmen to push rapid digitalization and on-line business transactions, with COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, on a population of 110 million, and growing, that has neither the financial capability to comply nor the familiarity with technology and sophisticated gadgetry most of which are wholly imported.
Considering that the majority of the population hover on the poverty threshold, these labor saving schemes are against public interest.
Sooner than later, the country needs to innovate, digitalize, and manufacture its essential products and develop its engineering industries.
However, with trillions of pesos in debt and borrowings, continuing population growth; unemployed returning overseas workers, regular destructive occurrences of typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, there is a need, during this pandemic interregnum, for political leaders, together with business leaders and scientists, to think out of the box, so to speak, and restructure the economy and society.
At present, the economy is wholly import dependent on computers for cell phones, compressors, machines, garlic, onions, rice, sugar, dairy, and poultry.
This is not the formula and way to achieve First World category.
To achieve rapid economic growth, the country must manufacture its own industrial needs and tools with the support and inspiration of the country’s political leaders.
As we promote and urge the public to patronize and buy local products, the industries have to ensure that the country produces quality and world-class products.
In the meantime, while the nation is earnestly battling to control the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and other foreign economic analysts are uniformly downgrading the country’s GDP by a hefty 8 percent compared to other ASEAN members.
However, with the multiple crises, come challenges and opportunities, the Philippines cannot remain static and complacent but must forge new paths, innovations, less politics, and focus intensely on manufacture – not merely low-tech assembly – and visionary bureaucracy and leadership.
The Philippines will remain a laggard in ASEAN if it remains a wholly dependent import economy. It must restructure the economy and transform the national psyche into an altruistic society.
We do not need a U-shaped economic recovery but a steep upward trajectory curve.
It can be done.
You be the judge.