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Farm sector strategy one year after EDSA 2

This piece was written on Jan. 24, 2001 – at the time that President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office in the wake of EDSA 2. It is
useful to revisit the recommendations outlined here for the recovery
and growth of the rural and agricultural sector, one year after the
entry of the post-Estrada administration.

OilEx again?

Gasoline prices have been making news again. Prior to the recent
rollbacks, oil companies had hiked their prices, precipitating much
protest and renewed calls for repealing oil deregulation Meanwhile,
Cong. Enrique Garcia of Bataan has re-filed his Oil Exchange bill in
the current Congress as House Bill No. 300. It is essentially a toned
down version of last year’s bill that no longer provides for taking
over private oil firms’ physical storage facilities and terminals.
However, HB 300 Sec 4 still provides for an oil exchange…

Oops, they did it again

During those weeks or months when road construction is ongoing, each time I hit Quirino Avenue and become one of the snarling mass of slow-moving vehicles on it, the question that inevitably rises out of my guts in between prayerful ejaculations (not curses, mind you) for politicians (whose CDFs fund the infrastructure project), DPWH bureaucrats, and contractors’ is WHY THE ANNUAL RESTORATION OF VIRTUALLY THE SAME PATCH OF REAL ESTATE?

The need to focus on tax administration in the near term

Two factors make tinkering with the tax code irresistible. One, the
BIR’s tax effort, contributing roughly 75% of National Government tax
revenue, has slid down to pre-CTRP (Comprehensive Tax Reform Package) levels. After peaking at 13% in 1997, it went down to 10.9% in 2000, lower than the 1994 BIR tax effort of 11%. Two, the revenue “crisis” comes at a time when prospects for economic recovery are bleak, and all sectors look to government to stimulate economic activity.

O Cartel!

For over a decade from the 1970s to the 1980s, the Philippine cement industry thrived under a powerful, government-sanctioned cartel that captured Filipino consumers and industry users including the government. In the absence of information, the government, through the Philippine Cement Industry Authority (PCIA), had to coordinate closely with the industry association, the Philippine Cement Corp. (Philcemcor). This led to the collusion of firms through informal agreements to set production quotas and geographic markets. By regulating prices and outputs, prices were no longer the product of competition among rival producers but more of the outcome of negotiations between the government and a small number of producers.

Mr. Banez’s Challenge

Most economic analysts agree that the gaping fiscal deficit is the single biggest factor that will drag our economic recovery in the next few years. Critics of the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s SONA mainly questioned the doability, not the merits, of her concrete proposals, citing the serious fiscal constraints facing the government. But we are in this situation because actual government fiscal performance in the past two years had deviated widely from the projections made in the Estrada Angat Pinoy Plan.