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Policy Forum on Local Economic Development

As recent headlines tell about President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s
alleged USD 20,000 dinner in a New York City restaurant while millions
of Filipinos go hungry, a low-key forum last week gathering heads of
local governments from north to south of the Philippines showed that
the country still has a wealth of stories on good governance,
transparency and accountability.

The Policy Forum on Local Economic Development, organized by the
non-government Galing Pook Foundation, gathered in Makati City about 15
local government leaders whose programs in their respective provinces,
cities or towns have shown that amid the deep-seated distrust on
government people, there are local government units (LGUs) who keep
making good in helping their people enjoy the fruits of meaningful
socio-economic growth, good health and clean environment.

What
was remarkable in the forum was that the LGU executives came from
different political leanings. Some even came from opposing political
parties or for a certain time, were direct political opponents. But
what bound them was the recognition, through Galing Pook’s annual
awards in good governance, of their programs in recent years for
effectively addressing local economy, health of the people,
environmental issues and declining agricultural conditions brought
about by unsustainable practices.

Focus on development, not just staying afloat

MEASURES TAKEN by the Philippines to keep the economy afloat amid the global slowdown — more public spending and wider access to credit — are correct but policy makers should particularly devote resources to achieving economic development in the medium to long term, a United Nations (UN) official said.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN assistant secretary-general for economic development, said developing countries such as the Philippines should increase investments toward the development of industries.

The Global Financial Crisis and Asia

Developing countries will “bear the brunt of the financial crisis originating in the US and other developed countries.” All economies will in fact be affected by the crisis, albeit differently, contrary to the view that emerging markets are “decoupled” from the US economy.

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Jomo K. Sundaram gave this assessment in a public lecture on the Global Financial Crisis and Asia held at the Ateneo de Manila University on February 23, 2009. It is interesting to note that the UN was the only multilateral institution that warned of an impending financial crisis as early as 2006.

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New Year’s Wish List – P55: $1

During a recent forum, Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno proposed that a fixed exchange rate of 55 pesos to the dollar to create a fiscal stimulus of at least P100 billion that would pump prime the Philippine economy in the face of a global economic downturn.