2007 indeed was arguably a banner year for the Philippine economy, and it was around the same time last year, when Malacañang bragged about the country’s economic growth, the highest in three decades. But the same could not be said now. This, considering the global economic slowdown, brought about by record-high oil prices, as well as the economic problems of the United States.
Last year, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was particularly proud of the Peso’s performance, the good performance of the stock market, and the record-low inflation. But with the global economic slowdown, the public is opened to the realization that these specific gains are only temporary gains. The peso, both because of the pressure of exporters and the economic conditions, is on a downtrend. The stock market isn’t a rosy, and a number of companies have postponed their IPO’s. And worst, inflation is at a 9-year high, with June’s inflation projected at 10.2% due to oil prices and high-priced food commodities. Because of the corruption in bureacracy, the political turbulence, and lack of infrastructure, the government has not been able to get more FDI’s, and have lost many contracts to more competitive countries like China and Vietnam.
Needless to say, the government must need to act double time — even triple — to arrest the immediate problems, especially now that gasoline has reached P60 per liter. To realize this should not be a problem for the bigwigs at the Palace, for failure to respond promptly to these problems may lead to more political instability, and God forbid, ultimate downfall of the government.
The government will need to think and work out of the box. It cannot rely on subsidies, which are a big joke. To save on fuel, the government must work to truly decongest the urban centers of heavy traffic. It needs to encourage the use of carpools. It needs to hasten the development of decent mass transit, and finish the development of more roads. And most importantly, it will need to step up its efforts to promote alternative energy through compressed natural gas and biofuels.
The private sector in other countries has been active in saving energy as well. Office lights and air conditioning would be turned off at lunch, and an hour before office hours are done. And many households do make an effort to save energy. The government needs to get ordinary citizens involved.
Food supply still remains an issue, of course, and the government should not stop at bringing rice hoarders to justice. It makes me wonder if special courts for rice hoarders and economic saboteurs would help.
The government must act now if it wishes economic gains to continue, and for these to be truly felt finally. For without any effective action, the government cannot shout its battlecry of “ramdam ang asenso.” What we’d all feel, as we feel now, more than ever, is “ramdam ang mataas na mga presyo.”