Failure in governance and management

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

A recent report by the Chandler Good Governance Index had the Philippines fall four slots in governance ranking in 2023. We are No. 67 out of 113 countries tied with the Dominican Republic, with Singapore at No. 1. This is our worst ranking in three years as we scored lower in leadership, foresight, and financial stewardship. The others in the top 10 are European countries with Germany eighth. The worst are mostly African countries with Venezuela and Lebanon occupying 112 and 113. In the Corruption Index the Philippines ranked 115th out of 180 countries. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Singapore are least corrupt, and Syria, Venezuela, and Somalia as most corrupt.

While the Philippines is not the worst in these categories, given the enormous economic and political issues confronting the world and individual countries, we have to do better or go down to the level of instability, civil strife, and violence that are happening in the worst-ranked countries. The factors affecting these rankings, like economic growth, per-capita income, poverty levels, government structure, educational levels, and others are well known; yet many countries are unable to address them. Given the limitations by these issues, the critical/most important factor is really leadership and governance, the ability of government leaders to come up with the strategy programs and projects and implement them successfully.

In the 1970s to 1980s, Filipino professionals were the most respected in Asia. Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, and Thai companies hired Filipino managers and rewarded them accordingly. Even today we still have Filipino managers in many Asian companies and are appreciated for their management and governance capabilities. Some of our government bureaucrats, then and now, always shine in regional and international forums they participate for good ideas and plans. So, people ask why Filipinos are so lousy in implementing the good ideas. We teach other nationals how to grow rice and we end up as the number one importer of rice, we had the first assembly plants for cars and we end up with the least-developed car industry in Asia. There are some exceptions where we did right, but generally our government sucks at implementation.

In almost all government offices there are always budgets for “capacity/capability building”. This is good, as training and development are important to managing. This however is also an admission that the people who are being hired in the government are inadequately prepared and lack the capability. The private sector likes to hire people that can hit the ground running on their first day on the job, and will train them further. The government offices hire political supporters who have to be trained from day one, which includes the unqualified candidates who got elected because of family connections. Most governors, mayors, barangay captains, including BBM and Mayor Rama, make pronouncements and orders without really knowing if their organization has the human/technical resources/capabilities to do them. So, implementation of projects and programs are faulty, overpriced, and delayed. It is common knowledge that government projects/programs will take twice as long to finish and cost twice as much, than if done by the private sector.

This is why it is a good move for the government to privatize the airports, the seaports, tollways, and many other services of the government. It is also good that there will be more Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) projects, since clearly the government doesn’t have the expertise and discipline to do these projects on their own. Economically, these are also good as it stretches the limited financial resources of the Philippine government which is already over-borrowing. These will convert to more programs/projects by the government especially if graft and corruption in government will be reduced and the savings/corruption leakages translated into more programs/projects.

Corollary and most importantly, we should stop electing unqualified/incompetent public officials, even if they belong to family political dynasties, or are celebrities, actors, or sports figures. There should be minimum educational and experience requirement for candidates. The alternative is for the Philippines staying as a middling developing country instead of graduating to a middle-income country by 2035.(CEBU NEWS)

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