No to goverment takeover

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Just recently, former vice president Jejomar Binay hit the nail on the head when he said that the current water crisis can be traced to government inaction.

In an article published in another newspaper, Binay said the blame must be shared by the Duterte administration with previous administrations which failed to see the necessity of Metro Manila’s long-term water security.

He noted that several years back, the private water concessionaires already warned about a looming water crisis in Metro Manila unless new water sources are developed. “Unfortunately, the warning was not heeded. It was only when Metro Manila was hit by a severe water shortage early this year that the authorities realized the gravity of the water problem. The knee-jerk response, however, was to threaten a government takeover of the water concessions,” he said.

Binay also said that observers have noticed the omission of water supply projects from the list of major infrastructure projects under the present administration’s Build, Build Build program, which is perplexing since under the concession agreement terms, producing water is a government obligation.

He likewise emphasized that the last thing we need is for government to make good on its threat to take over the operations of the concessionaires since government has not been recognized for efficiency and lacks the core expertise for water management.

The former VP stressed that the problem is not the management of the concessionaires but water supply which government is obligated to provide, adding that a government takeover will not produce a single drop of water.

A good habit to develop

 The Philippines is said to have one of the lowest savings rates in Southeast Asia. And according to a survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, only one in four households has savings.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has said in another survey in the Philippines that most Filipino families’ incomes were eaten up by basic necessities, thus representing a significant hurdle in the amount of savings Filipino families can set aside.

According to the World Bank, respondents of the survey who were financially literate, or who were familiar with basic terms like interest rates, purpose of insurance, and risk diversification, were found to be more responsible with their finances.

World Bank said that policymakers should focus on financial literacy education and come up with interventions such as getting financial literacy into the basic education curriculum.

Thankfully, there are companies like Cebuana Lhuillier who have made it their mission to teach Filipinos the benefits of saving money and how a micro savings product can help them secure and grow their savings, little by little, towards becoming financially independent in the future.

 As part of its mission, the company has empowered its 8,000-strong workforce to become “iponaryo” ambassadors, visiting far-flung communities, schools and workplaces to teach and show Filipinos how to manage their spending, save money, keep them in a micro-savings account, not in the usual alkansya.

 In more than 500 iponaryo sessions conducted nationwide so far, attendees are encouraged to take on the P50 iponaryo challenge by depositing P50 directly into a micro-savings account as frequently as possible with the aim of growing it to P50,000.

Cebuana Lhullier Rural Bank has an interest-bearing deposit product with low initial deposit and no maintaining balance. The product is being carried by Cebuana Lhullier Pawnshop as cash agent. Cebuana Lhullier Micro Savings is currently available in close to 2,500 branches nationwide.

With more than 2.5 million new micro-savings accounts already generated, Cebuana Lhuillier is finally giving millions of unbanked Filipinos the opportunity to safely grow their hard-earned money.

No place for grandstanding

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon has recently questioned the legal personality and the role of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) in overseeing the preparations for the country’s hosting of the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games. 

During the Senate plenary deliberations on the proposed 2020 budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Drilon also asked about the SEA  Games cauldron, which he claimed cost P50 million to construct.

Fortunately, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who also chairs the PHILGOSOC appeared before the Senate even if he could have chosen to skip the invitation since he could have invoked legislative protocol and interparliamentary courtesy. 

It will be recalled that President Duterte personally chose Cayetano to head PHISGOC to ensure that the funds for the SEA Games would be properly spent and accounted for up to the last centavo.

The Philippines is spending P6 billion in state funds for the SEA Games, while Singapore, the 2015 host, spent P15 billion. Singapore also commissioned top-rated DP Architects to build its SEA Games cauldron at a cost of P63 million. 

As explained by Cayetano, the SEA Games cauldron, built at a cost of P45 million, was designed by no less than National Artist for Architecture Bobby Mañosa, and thus, should be considered a work of art and an important part of Philippine culture and history. There’s no putting a price tag on a structure that will now form part of the country’s rich heritage.

 He also pointed out that the sports facilities built inside New Clark City will not turn out to be white elephants as claimed by Drilon because after SEA Games, our athletes can continue using them instead of going abroad to get proper training. Also, the Philippines will also host the 10th ASEAN Para Games next year and can offer to host other prestigious  sports competitions using the facilities in New Clark City. 

Meanwhile, the amount spent for hosting the SEA Games will be offset by the tourism revenues which will be generated from the event, and the small businesses that will flourish and benefit as a result of the influx of visitors to the country, Cayetano said. 

 When Drilon said that the Commission on Audit should undertake a post-audit of the PHISGOC’s spending for the SEA Games,  Cayetano said he is willing to face any investigation or audit on this issue. 

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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