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.
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.
Among some economists, the current joke is that they and their ilk
should be banned from seeking the presidency. One likely problem with an economist-turned-president who thinks he knows his stuff is that he would ignore advice and pursue an economic policy that does not make sense to others.
Time and again, it is often asserted that the policies for social and
economic development espoused in our Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) are generally sound – but it is in implementation where we fall apart. A key function of governance is the effective translation of policies and strategies embodied in the nation’s development plan into tangible actions by the various players in society, both in and out of the government. But alas, governance is precisely where the previous administration went wrong.
An anecdote often related as gospel truth about the dietary preferences of Filipinos – especially of the so-called “masses” – is that a common Filipino meal consists of a “mountain” of rice, flavored by a bit of soup or viand. This observation then leads to a conclusion that “Filipinos eat too much rice.” A further conclusion is then hazarded – that: “If only Filipinos ate less rice, then we won’t have to worry about imports!”