News Commentary

Holistic strategies for good governance and prosperity

Venice Isabelle Rañosa - Philstar.com
Holistic strategies for good governance and prosperity
A general view of buildings in the financial district of Makati, suburban Manila on November 10, 2022.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

A nation’s long-term prosperity can only be attained through a holistic strategy where all stakeholders have a valuable contribution that leaves no one behind. That, essentially, sums up the action plan needed to address the paradoxes in Philippine society today.

While the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) just reported that the economy expanded by 7.6% in the third quarter of 2022, faster than the 7.5% recorded in the preceding quarter, Filipinos on the ground continue to face economic challenges, especially amid high inflation. Specifically, based on the latest Consumer Expectations Survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), consumer outlook became even more pessimistic in the third quarter of 2022 as consumers remain concerned with the faster increase in the prices of goods and higher household expenses, low income, as well as fewer available jobs and working family members. 

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pulse Asia Research Inc. in September 2022 revealed that controlling inflation, increasing the pay of workers, creating more jobs, and reducing poverty were the most urgent national concerns identified by the people. Landing on the fifth spot was fighting graft and corruption in government. 

Indeed, Filipinos are aware of the economic consequences of corruption in the country. A survey commissioned by the Stratbase Group to Pulse Asia Research Inc. in September 2022 revealed that the top two areas that Filipinos believe will result from controlling corruption are economic recovery and development, as well as improving the plight of ordinary citizens. 

The same survey revealed that majority of Filipinos at 91% agree that the government should cooperate with different groups – such as civil society, private sector, academe, mass media, and ordinary citizens – in order to effectively control corruption.

These sentiments are not just felt by ordinary Filipinos but are likewise shared by the business community. According to the 2022 CEO Survey of PwC Philippines and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), 67% of business leaders identified corruption as the top factor that will delay the country’s economic recovery. Hence, accountability and transparency, the fight against corruption, and attracting more foreign investments were specified by CEOs as the top three areas that must be prioritized by the new administration.

Indeed, corruption erodes public trust. But the bigger impact are the economic costs, which can hinder the country’s growth and ability to reach its full potential in the long run.

For one, the irresponsible use of public funds deprives deserving sectors of the resources that they need. Furthermore, investors prefer conducting business in a stable and predictable environment where the government adheres to the rule of law. Unscrupulous and fraudulent acts scare investors away and deny the country any further investment, which could have contributed to job creation, poverty alleviation, and national development.

A Stratbase ADR Institute-commissioned Pulse Asia survey in September 2022 also showed that 86% of Filipinos believe that the private sector plays a crucial role in accelerating economic growth. 89% are also in the belief that the government and the private sector should form partnerships to sustain economic recovery.

Key opportunities for governance reform and private sector participation to address development challenges under the new administration will be tackled at the Stratbase ADR Institute’s Pilipinas Conference 2022, which will be held from November 21 to 22, 2022 at the Ayala Museum in Makati City. The morning session of the first day, entitled, “Governance and the Private Sector: Carving Paths to Inclusive Development“, will gather thought leaders and political experts to share their insights on how the responsible utilization of government resources plays a vital role in controlling corruption, which can enhance the country's recovery. 

The event’s keynote speaker will be Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, who is expected to delve into the benefits of open governments as well as the digitization efforts of the DBM.

The main drivers of development are the citizens. We need to empower our people to be productive members of society. What drives economy is consumption. What drives consumption is the level of income from the jobs and livelihood of the productive population. Government must therefore create the ideal investment environment so that the private sector can generate quality jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. 

When complemented with a skilled and healthy workforce at a time when we are at demographic sweet spot, government and the private sector must align towards a united push to convert this potential into a real and accelerating velocity of inclusive growth and prosperity.

The bottom line is that good governance is key to long-term development, which can be strengthened by transparency and accountability, citizen participation, and the rule of law. 

As the new administration faces the daunting task of dealing with a multitude of complex issues amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and other external risks – including social inequality, poverty, joblessness, and high inflation – an opportunity for multi-sectoral collaboration emerges, which is perhaps the most practical solution to mitigate perennial issues that continue to plague the nation. 

Venice Isabelle Rañosa is a research manager at think tank Stratbase ADR Institute.

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