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Statement on the New Issues

This short piece looks at the areas of new issues — government
procurement, investments, and competition policy. Negotiations on
whether the WTO’s mandate and power will be expanded to cover these new issues will be discussed in September in Cancun, Mexico. This paper argues that multilateral agreements in these said areas will only serve to restrict national policy space and incapacitate development countries from conducting appropriate agricultural, industrial, and development policies.

The CODE-NGO PEACE Bonds: A Case of Impermissible Rent-Seeking

Much heat has been generated by the national government’s issuance of the PEACE Bonds that resulted in the transfer of PhP1.4 billion to the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO). For one, an esteemed colleague in the human development advocacy, Solita Collas-Monsod, has written that the critics’ accusation of cupidity or stupidity against ” everyone involved [with the PEACE Bonds]…reflects on their ignorance, or envy, or political opportunism.”

But a good number of critics are not the ignorant, envious and opportunist type. Our opposition to the PEACE Bonds stems from a cold analysis that CODE-NGO was engaged in impermissible rent-seeking to obtain the PhP1.4 billion.

Defining Rent-Seeking

The principal theorists on rent-seeking (J.M. Buchanan, R. Tollison, and G. Tullock) define it as “the resource-wasting activities of individuals in seeking transfers of wealth through the aegis of the state.” Similarly, R.B. Ekelund and Tollison describe rent-seeking as “activities whereby individuals seek returns from state-sanctioned monopoly rights.” Tullock views rent-seeking as “the activity of setting a monopoly or getting some other government favor.”

Comments on the Draft Bicam Report of the Electric Power Bill

Upon presentation by the Action for Economic Reforms (AER) of its
position paper during the 16 February 2001 public consultative hearing
conducted by the Bicameral Conference Committee on the proposed
Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the Honorable John H. Osmena,
Chairman of the Senate Panel of the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Power Bill, requested AER to submit its proposed specific
amendments to the bill following the issues that it raised. In response
to this request, the AER submits this updated version of the position
paper, with the section spelling out its proposed specific amendments
to the bill presently under consideration by the Committee.

Bad Economics to Protect Erap

In the midst of a weakening economy and a political upheaval, Mr.
Estrada is adopting economic measures that will only throw us from the
frying pan into the fire. In just one week, the government has adopted
measures that have serious and adverse effects on the economy.

The Last Thing We Need Is Another “Interest Cure” Episode

We express our most vigorous opposition to the return of the “interest rate cure” to address the economic turmoil besetting the country in the aftermath of the explosion of the jueteng scandal. Recently, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) increased reserve requirements and jacked up its overnight borrowing rate by four percent. As an immediate result, prime lending rates have sharply increased, with some banks even charging prime rates above 20 percent. Worse, the BSP is contemplating a higher increase in interest rates to insulate the peso from further attacks.

Mr. President, for our country’s sake, please resign now

This time we speak from our heart and soul, and we do so very sadly. Recent revelations–the jueteng scandal– give us no choice but to ask you, President Estrada, to resign and save the country, the people from further harm. In the minds and hearts of the people, you have lost the credibility and the moral ascendancy to lead us.