2021 – Optimism and Uncertainty


Hector RR Villanueva

“Ring out the old, ring in the new, the year is going, let him go; Ring out false; ring in the true.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Let us be candid about it.

Though buoyed up with hope, economic recovery is not around the corner.

The COVID-19 pandemic will not be vanquished anytime soon though the relief cavalry (vaccine) is on the way.

There are reasons for optimism in 2021 and beyond, provided the emancipation is accompanied by fundamental reforms, probity and forthright national leadership.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a wakeup call and game changer that is reshaping respective domestic economies and the global economy as a whole that will not be the same ever again.

First, the steady increase in population must be addressed and acted upon if we are to improve per capita income and living standards in view of the fact that the Philippines has one of the largest population in the ASEAN, other than Indonesia, and of the smaller land mass, other than Brunei and Singapore.

While allegedly rich in natural resources, the Philippines, alas, has neither the oil deposits nor large palm oil plantations, nor rice sufficiency, nor aggressive and bold technological innovation, and no culture of altruism as the bureaucracy is a politically laid-back hierarchy and the economy is controlled by a narrow oligarchy.

Second, with escalating unemployment from massive repatriation of overseas workers, creeping inflation, and growing working age, there is a need for bold and imaginative economic policies from the economic managers and Congress.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic is a clarion call for society and the economy to undertake breakthrough policies.

Third, while there is a need for great sensitivity and delicate balance between economic recovery and draconian lockdowns and restrictive red tape protocols, putting food on the table and temporary employment should be given higher priority.

Thus, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) can enhance  their performance in so far as moderating and controlling essential prices and medicines, and law and order.

The bottom line is that the government has succeeded in halting the spread of the coronavirus with harsh lockdowns at the expense of early economic recovery.

We need to hanker down on greed and malpractices in the next decade to succeed.

You be judge.