Jul 172013

On his 4th State of the Nation address, President Benigno Aquino III will hark on some outstanding accomplishments that most past presidents have not been able to deliver.

First off will be the upgrade in investment status by two major credit rating institutions, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s, and the recent hint by another agency, Moody’s Investors Service, that it may lift the country’s rating later this year.

All these are cognizant of the upbeat tempo in the economy the past year as gleaned from the strong GDP reports, improved tax collections and the better fiscal condition of government, and returning optimism among foreign investors to park their money in the country.

The legislative has nonetheless also contributed a significant share, largely by passing measures such as the sin tax law that have raised collections by and impressive 28.2 percent year-on-year compared to the 12.4 percent figure in 2012.

There will be more upbeat statements that we can expect from P-Noy as he addresses his “new” and old colleagues in Congress, those who have been given the mandate to rule our legislature for at least the next three years.

It’s a relief that the last May elections had delivered to the current presidency a political government on the local, Lower House and Senate levels that is supportive and looks favorably on P-Noy’s leadership. This augurs well for the final stretch of the President’s six-year term.

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In truth, time will fly, and the three calendar years left will shrink to barely two especially when the political system starts up in earnest in preparation for the next presidential elections. And yet, there is so much left to do.

Poverty and job generation

Poverty and job generation continue to be major problems of majority of the population, both being sufficient reason why the gap between the affluent and the poor in the country continues to widen. There is no definitive program that addresses these twin problems on a sustainable basis.

Unemployment, under-employment, and child labor are still on the rise, even if the country is sending out more of its citizens to fill jobs abroad. This is because there are really no new local industries or opportunities for livelihood that are opening up, and yet our population number continues to rise.

Aquino’s government may have scored on the impeachment of the 23rd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a first in our nation’s democratic history, but the justice system continues to languish despite “reforms” introduced in earlier years.

Health care delivery needs to be radically revamped, with more focus on keeping the nation healthy rather than running after ailments, many of which are the result of poor lifestyle habits that cannot be cured by pill-popping.

While there have been gains in the government’s current program to shepherd children from poor communities back to school, programs to raise education quality and introduce learning programs for higher skills continue to be neglected.

Economic myopia

Except for a handful of business sectors, one of which would be business process operations (BPOs) or call centers, most industries are asking government for major assistance. A more updated fiscal program has to be crafted and passed by the legislature at the soonest.

The tourism sector needs a comprehensive program that will define a workable roadmap to encourage more tourists as well as investors in the ancillary areas of medical and dental servicing and retirement silos for foreigners.

The country needs to come up with a definitive position on the mining industry, one that will define an acceptable balance between non-sustainable extraction of mineral, metals and fossil fuel and revenue generation for the national patrimony.

Agriculture continues to flounder, more so with trade liberalization among ASEAN members being in effect. Why do we have to import rice when we can plant and harvest it at a competitive, if not lower, cost? The same is true about vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, pork and beef.

Electricity rates continue to be one of the highest in the world, and despite this problem having been highlighted for more than two decades, the problem persists. Is there really no solution to this?

Sadly, many parts of the country are now threatened by insufficient power supply. This problem too had been flagged more than five years ago, and yet the government seems content with hoping that there will be enough rains to fill up dams that will run hydroelectric turbines.

Governance issues

There is still admittedly so much more that can be done to improve the executive and the legislative arms of government. In addition to reducing corruption to the barest minimum, there is a need for better delivery of services from our public servants.

We need better planning not to just paddle our way upstream but in choosing the right bends and forks that will bring us faster to where we want to go.

We want to hear our chief executive tell us where we should go and how we should reach that destination. We need to know where we are in that journey, what stumbling blocks lie in wait, and what solutions are being considered to overstep those problems.

During the last three years, this nation of 94 million people has been waiting for this clarion call. Perhaps it’s not too late this year to hear one.

“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.” – Unknown

Ongoings in collegiate basketball nationwide

As Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) prepares for the 2013 National Collegiate Championship, news about the progress of tournaments being conducted nationwide will be carried by the PCCL official website, www.CollegiateChampionsLeague.net.

After winning the “mother league” competitions, league champions are looking forward to the regional conference championships which will determine the teams that will ultimately reach the Sweet 16 Step-ladder phase and the Final Four of the Champions League 2013 National Collegiate Championship. 

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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