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All is not well

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By Milwida M. Guevara

Withdrawal is a common defense mechanism.  A person escapes from reality to spare himself from experiencing pain. Through withdrawal, one avoids confronting what is real although he does not deny or distort it.

I have had the withdrawal syndrome for quite some time. I have stopped watching local TV stations to avoid listening to the news. I have likewise stopped reading newspapers.  My affliction turned worse after the US elections.  I ceased watching CNN and BBC.

But one cannot escape reality and sooner or later, it must be confronted. What jolted me was the possibility that we may lose our foreign funding.  It became imperative for us to conduct  a strategic planning  on how  to confront the worst scenario.

And what could go wrong? GDP grew beyond the most optimistic forecast. So what should we worry about?  Government even reported a decline in the  crime rate which is a big boost to peace and order. And surprise, government also brandished an improvement in the traffic situation.

But  all is not well. Inflation  started  to  rise  to 2.3% in October compared to 1.4% last year.  Expenditures outpaced revenues resulting to a budgetary deficit of P121.6 billion in September.  While this may be in keeping with the pursuit of the “golden age of infrastructure”, it worries me  that our revenues may not take us there.  Despite the 7.1% GDP growth, revenues only grew by 1.12%.  This means that government is not able to capture increases in income and prices  in terms of revenue collection.  The growth of BIR revenues was less than one percent, or a pale 0.62%.  BOC collection increased by 2.06%.  If we take away the tax expenditures or taxes that what would have been collected from purchases of government, the growth of BOC collection  would be less than one percent as well, or 0.66%.

In contrast, expenditures in September, 2016 grew by 22.81% compared to the same period in 2015. If expenditures continue to outpace revenues, government will have little recourse but to do debt financing.  This path is perilous and rocky.

There are more worrisome signals. Business optimism dipped as shown by the Grant Thornton International Business report.  Economic uncertainty slipped by 14 points as 38% of businesses surveyed opined that economic uncertainty is considered a major constraint. BSP reported that overall confidence index declined to 39.8 % compared to 45.4% during the last quarter. The less than optimistic outlook of business was influenced by the direction of foreign policies and economic reforms, weakening global demand, and the depreciation of the peso.

Another slip was reported by the World Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum.  The Philippines dropped from 47th to 57th place in the ranking of 138 countries .We seemed to retrogress in terms of technological readiness, institutions, innovations, and goods market efficiency.

Everyday, we watch the continuous slide of the peso against the dollar with anticipation. Exporters and overseas contract workers are elated but manufacturers with a significant import component in their products anticipate rising costs.  This does not augur well for a smooth sailing of government’s proposal to  increase excise tax rates on petroleum products.

We used to have the best performing equities market in the region but last weekend, local share prices plunged in contrast to the buoyant growth of stock markets in the region and in the United States.

My DOF boss Bobby de Ocampo used to rally us to turn downturns and downswings into opportunities. Perhaps, these should nudge government to realize that nation building means more than fighting the drug problem. Many things are not right.  The honeymoon period is over. It is time to rise above parochial mentality, boorish behavior, and diplomatic bullying. Since sleeves are already rolled and our officials are dressed with work clothes, government should now confront the many challenges that face the nation.

And on our part, It is never too late to get on the bus.  We should get fully informed, stand and advocate for what is right. This is our country and our stake is as important as any.

mguevara@synergeia.org.ph

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  • Paul Parenas

    “I have had the withdrawal syndrome for quite some time. I have stopped watching local TV stations to avoid listening to the news. I have likewise stopped reading newspapers. My affliction turned worse after the US elections. I ceased watching CNN and BBC.”

    Good for you! I hope you shifted to watching FOX NEWS. We need more fair and balanced people!

    • Jocel

      you nailed it!

    • jules90f

      She probably meant that it is depressing watching the news from the more credible stations – I also stopped watching these stations after the US elections, really depressing news coming from the US. Implicit in the statement that she doesn’t watch FOX. Who would want to, anyway, right? :-)

  • Warlock

    Good article, thank you for sharing the truth behind the so called drug war.

  • PDH

    Thank you for your analysis of what you think is “All is not well.” I guess, you should not stop there by just enumerating what ails the economy and this country. The better attitude is to offer solutions. That’s what this country needs. And we hope the administration considers every one’s suggestion to better this country.

  • Waykeber

    I agree with the contents of the article but instead of “All Is Not Well”, I prefer “Not All Is Well”.

    • RyanF1

      You are applying Filipino Syntax (i.e. “Hindi lahat ay mabuti.) on English. Incorrect. For example, “All that glitters is not gold,” is understood to mean, “Not everything you see that glitters might be gold.”

  • Marcella Lopez

    I guess I cant give justice to this article,” All is not well”..I am a very positive person, .Let us just take the opposite side of it ” Everything will be OK.” Why worry about things that has yet to come.Whether it would be bad or good , the only key is ACCEPTANCE .Strong Faith is I believe the best anti dote to Paranoia syndrome..Let us try to find beautiful and positive things out of the negative things that is happening around us. That would give us a beautiful and happy outlook in life.. I am referring to all areas of life.

    • Mel Manalo

      being concerned doesnt mean paranoia…so when should we be worried? when SHTF already? taking steps to arrest a negative development rather than wait hope and pray is better, right? an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure but you learned that already

  • Kevin G. Salazar

    How could the situation be “All is not well” if GDP, revenues, BOC and BIR collections rose in the quarter? What was the forcasted growth rates and how does it compare to last year growth rates? Only the perception values and spending v4alues, which have gone down, were compared to last year’s data; and that for me is understandable because of the current war on drugs..

    For me, the numbers mentioned does not warrant an “all is not well” situation.

  • niuginicebeer2009

    It doesn’t matter as long as there is dead bodies everyday…who cares about economy..USD 50.00 is okay….my president loves OFW’s more than anybody else…

  • Dr. Manjo Oyson

    The idiocy of some of the comments to this well though-out article makes me sick. Indeed, all is not well. I fully agree.

    • beautilicious

      expect that from keyboard warriors paid to defend the Duterte administration..those behind doesn’t care what happens to our country but they care how much money they could get from posts they do

    • Paul Parenas

      Idiocy? And emphasized, you’re a doctor too! Come on doc! This is a social media. Elites like you don’t belong here……

  • Sergs Navarra

    “Expenditures outpaced revenues resulting to a budgetary deficit of P121.6 billion in September.”

    If the above is true, then all is not really well….