In the Philippines, skepticism continues among the country’s intellectual circles about the merits of economic growth. The core argument is that economic growth cannot be felt, i.e., it does not translate to welfare gains, in improving the quality of lives of the people. The situation is unfortunate since intellectual resistance serves as a pull-down mechanism to socioeconomic progress. This is perhaps true not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well. The economist Adam Szirmai concedes even “most scholars of growth take both the desirability and feasibility of economic growth for granted.”
A news item buried in an inside page of this paper’s issue on March 16, 2004 reported that “Alberto Lim, the controversial member of the Civil Aeronautics Board or CAB, was reportedly relieved recently after
Malacanang appointed his replacement.” Kudos to BusinessWorld for
reporting this crucial issue, but it should have been headline news, as other newspapers did not publish this controversy.
The specter of crippling fiscal deficits and the inability to produce revenues for infrastructure provision prodded the government to turn to private participation as the efficacious solution to the acute infrastructure lack that has turned off investors, constrained economic growth and contributed to the lack of competitiveness of the economy.
Certain opinions are misplaced regarding certain types of people and
their capacity for decision making and implementation. At least from
the point of view of some “accomplished” individuals in business and
government, there is a tendency to underestimate, on a wholesale-basis, people from the academe.
The Philippines finds itself today in a conjuncture that makes it necessary to review the lessons that we were supposed to learn from the East Asian Crisis of 1997. With a politically charged environment as a backdrop, the Philippine economy has continued exhibiting disturbing traits and this has called the attention of not a few economic experts.
In the United States, Congress is duty-bound at all times to legislate an appropriations act on time. When it fails to do this, federal agencies and programs literally shut down. In the Philippines, in contrast, Congress is not subject to the same kind of pressure. Government agencies simply operate on the basis of the previous year’s budget when the passage of the general appropriations act is delayed.