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An opportunity not to be lost again

There are true economic roadmaps, and there are economic roadmaps that just stay on paper.

The latter seems to have been the destiny of this country for decades ever since Filipinos took the helm of nation-building in their own hands. For some time going into the ’60s, the Philippines was considered the shining star of the East.

Then, for some reason, this country overnight found itself the region’s laggard. Even shamefully, in recent years, we’d heard of Vietnam and Laos being praised for their vibrant progression towards economic salvation. That was long after the world acknowledged the emergence of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and China as economic powers.

So what’s the matter? Is it the leadership – in particular, the country’s CEO (better known as the president) – that’s the problem? Is it the whole bureaucracy that seems to just be so myopic about doing its job? Is it inherent in the Filipino psyche not to be able to plan long term?

Presidents and politics

This country has had its share of colorful presidents. They’ve tried every kind of recipe in the book to cook up a path of economic emancipation, including holding midnight drinking cabinets and lengthening their stay in government over the regular prescribed period.

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They say six years is too short for a good president, and too long for a bad one. I’d like to think that time is not really the big issue here.

A president who thinks of his post as simply a reward for winning the elections is an unacceptable public servant. On the other hand, a person who gets elected because he has a track record for making things work and doing something sustainable for the country should have the upper hand.

There lies the crux, my friends. It’s both the mindset of our elected officials and those that elect them: that a public post, most especially that of the president, is more than a position of trust. We must have people in governance who will truly work for the country’s 92-plus million people’s welfare.

Perhaps it is time to rethink how this nation’s politics works so that those who run for elected positions do not think about getting elected simply to get (or stay in) power for whatever ulterior motives they have.

We have to reduce the cost of elections; this remains to be one of the biggest reasons why our elected officials succumb to selfish motives. An elected official’s first concern is to recover what was spent for his win, whether it had come from his own pocket or from his benefactors.

Headless and mindless bureaucrats

This may sound harsh, but we have too many bureaucrats who don’t know what they’re really doing, or who don’t really care what they’re doing as long as they get paid every 15th and 30th.  And we can find these types from the lowest level of our government to the highest echelons.

Not that all are corrupt or nincompoops – kulang lang. Sometimes, we see government programs that don’t really mesh with each other. But more often, we see undertakings that are totally not in synch by even a half note – the right hand does not even only know what the left hand is doing.

If we were to rate the National Economic Development Authority whose job is to draw up a sure-fire winning economic development plan and orchestrate this to fruition, it would definitely not be for egregia cum laude honors. Proof of this is how the country has been floundering through the years trying to keep afloat.

Should we credit NEDA for the recent upgrades? I don’t think so. Kudos would definitely go to the continued high trust rating of P-Noy and, more importantly but not gleefully, for external circumstances that have weighed down most economies of the world.

The country’s COO definitely has a big role to play in getting economic plans off the ground and running smoothly, but it is the NEDA’s role to put together the whole blueprint in a way that it achieves what this country needs.

But if you have, for example, a tourism development plan that is not supported not just on the local government level, but even by other national agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (for incentives) or the Finance department (for budget), or even by Congress (for supporting laws), how the heck can we expect to move forward.

The government has been discussing for ages an information technology program, and so far, in the various PowerPoint files presented, very little significant progress has been made.

The Board of Investments has been asking industries to submit their own respective roadmaps for growth, but apparently gave up trying to put them together. Not without reason, the task seems to have overwhelmed our bureaucrats.

For instance, our automotive industry has been asking for a brilliant solution that would help develop the local manufacturing sector so that the remaining 70 percent of cars sold in the country which are imported could be made from the sweat and tears of our own countrymen. No solution has been forthcoming.

Worse, our finance executives seem to be afflicted with the penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude, looking at the immediate negative impact on the coffers but unminding of the long-term gain for the whole country.

Should we give our bureaucrats effective training on how to think out of the box and be more creative in finding solutions? How do we solve our perennial weakness for short-sightedness and apathy?

False patience and rigid resilience

Patience and fortitude have been traits that Filipinos take pride in. But this is to a fault. We suffer incompetence and shabby work without a whimper of protest. We shrug off misery and suffering that normally would have made other peoples pull the trigger.

The world looks at the Philippines (again) as at the brink of joining other emerging economies. As a Filipino, this is flattering. I just hope that this feeling is one that will be grounded on something substantial that will really form the basis for future growth.

Needless to say, we have to get our act together this time. The reality is that if we lose this opportunity, the chance to move forward may not come in a long time again.

Collegiate basketball season starts

As the FilOil Flying V pre-season tournament closed, the 2013 collegiate basketball season rolls off with the opening in the next two weeks of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) games.

Shortly, the biggest collegiate league in the south, the CESAFI of Cebu City, will follow suit. Then the other 36 “mother leagues” all over the country will also conduct their yearly search for their best teams.

The season will reach its climax by the middle of November up to middle of December when all the champions all over the country will start their journey to be counted as one among the best, and as the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) 2013 National Collegiate Championship conducts the regional championship, the Metro Manila qualifying games, and the step-ladder semi-finals leading to the Final Four series. 

For more details of the exciting 2013 collegiate basketball season, visit www.CollegiateChampionsLeague.net.

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

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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