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Opportunity to reform market economy

The crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic provides a singular opportunity to significantly reform the so-called free market economy that has been embraced by countries of different political shades and persuasions, from socialist China to capitalist America.  Although it cannot be denied that the experiment with market-oriented economic policies by China has resulted in the liberation from dehumanizing poverty of hundreds of millions of people over the last 20  to 30 years, there continues to be scandalous disparity of income and wealth among those who have benefited from these reforms and those who have been left behind.  The massive unemployment that has been caused by the lockdowns of  economies all over the world has worsened the inequity in the distribution of income even in the most developed countries of Europe and elsewhere. The human sufferings that we are witnessing during the worst global economic crisis in 150 year  should bring world leaders to finally come to their senses and listen to what Pope Francis has been saying about   the limitations of the free market economy in respecting the dignity of each human person and in pursuing the common good of society. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis clearly states that “the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development.”  The Holy Father points out that  growth in social justice “requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth.”  it requires decisions, programs, mechanisms, and processes especially geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment, and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”  In the publication “This Economy Kills,” authors Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi, inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis, enumerate the types of leaders who are needed for authentic human development in both developed and emerging markets.  According to them, we need “men and women who look to the future, who are committed to pursue the common  good and whose goal is not just the next election campaign.  It requires men and women who not only look at the spread and stock market indices as indicators of the health of a country but inquire whether the younger generations have a job, a future, and hope; whether children have kindergartens and schools that can educate them by introducing them to reality; whether couples have the opportunity to buy a house; whether there are effective welfare programs available for the elderly; and whether those who still bet on the future by putting children into the world are justly taxed, rather than penalized.  It requires men and women who are engaged in politics and work in institutions without corrupting themselves or letting others corrupt them, even managing perhaps to revive a minimum of esteem (which has never been so in decline) for that ‘highest form of charity’—that is, politics—in as much as it is exclusively committed to the common good and to the real lives of people, with special attention   and dedication to those in difficulty, those left behind, those  who are excluded and should be included.” We have in the above quote a program that should permeate the so-called new normal post-pandemic.  What I have read so far about prognostications concerning the “new normal” are mostly about means, not ends. There is a lot of talk about the digital transformation that all economic sectors shall have undergone as a response to the changes in consumer lifestyle and business practices brought about by COVID-19. It asserted that digitalization will be a universal practice. Online purchases of practically all types of consumer goods and services; modes of payments; delivery of formal education and all types  of skills training; banking practices; religious services; sports events; forms of entertainment; etc.  These transformations, however,  could occur without addressing the fundamental problem of great disparities in the distribution of income and wealth and may even exacerbate the problem of the poor if, for example, their children are further left behind because they lack the resources to participate in online learning.  Although the means are also important, there should be greater emphasis in the transformation of the ends or objectives of the economic system.  Our leaders should ask themselves how to make the structural changes necessary to reduce mass poverty (which has worsened during the many lockdowns made necessary by the pandemic).  In more concrete terms, the economic system should be geared to providing more nutritious food to the poorest of the poor; better quality education and health care to the bottom 20 percent of the population; free health services to those who cannot afford them;  socialized housing for the homeless; and well paying jobs for the unemployed and underemployed. The new normal should give the highest priority to providing the small farmers with what they need to eke out a decent living by providing them with the necessary infrastructures such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, post-harvest facilities, access to credit and other farm support services that have long been denied the Filipino farmers.  I have always maintained that the first cause of dehumanizing poverty in the Philippines is the long-term neglect of rural and agricultural development.  It is not a coincidence that 75 percent of those who fall below the poverty line are in the rural areas. Many of them are the beneficiaries of agrarian reform who, after being provided with one or two hectares of land, were completely abandoned to their own resources.  They are the landless farm workers, the “kaingeros” (slush-and-burn farmers), and the subsistence fisherfolk. Hopefully, the shortage of food during  the pandemic has made it crystal clear that food security should be on top of our economic objectives.  Food security now and in the future can be made possible only by a significant increase in the productivity with which we use our agricultural resources.  To be continued For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 3rd, 2020

Gov’t pushes digitalized, mechanized farm sector

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the government is rapidly digitalizing the country’s agricultural systems and mechanizing farm production to ensure food security over the long run. During the virtual 2020 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government wants to turn the coronavirus-induced health emergency into an opportunity. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) To do so, Dominguez said efforts to implement the twin measures are being done to expand Filipinos’ market access for food producers while keeping food supply available and prices affordable. “We are confident that the innovative measures we are putting in place today will transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic, high-growth sector that will fuel our country’s strong recovery,” Dominguez said during the high-level Food Security Roundtable at the meeting. Dominguez said the government is also promoting digital marketing to support ongoing efforts to boost consumer spending in the new normal and sustaining public investments in rural infrastructure. He added that the government is accelerating the move towards agricultural technology-based farming and value chain development to ensure long-term food security.  To channel more funds into the agriculture sector, the government is also encouraging more private-sector financing in the sector by proposing reforms in the Congress that will provide more access to credit for the entire agricultural value chain, Dominguez said.   “We all aspire for greater food and nutrition security for our people. Only an efficient and modern agriculture sector can fully deliver that,” Dominguez, who was Agriculture secretary during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, said. Amid pandemic, Dominguez III said the Philippines has been handling the COVID-19 crisis “with strength on the food security front” duets reforms, particularly with the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). According to Dominguez, the agriculture sector was “one of the brightest spots” of the Philippines’s response to the pandemic owing in large part to the RTL. He pointed out that agriculture sector even continued to grow when the rest of the economy contracted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Dominguez said rice tariffication was among the main reasons why the government has succeeded in keeping food prices and supply stable, and inflation low during the COVID-19 emergency.  Keeping rice prices stable has been helpful for low-income households that spend a fifth of their budgets on rice alone, he added.   “The Philippines faced the COVID-19 pandemic with strength on the food security front,” Dominguez said.  He pointed out that despite logistical restrictions resulting from the lockdowns imposed to protect people and communities from the lethal coronavirus, the government was able to sustain the flow of produce from local farms to Filipino consumers.   “A food crisis did not happen. This is credited to the effective management of the food supply by our Agriculture Department,” Dominguez said......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 8th, 2020

PH office space sales fell 70% in 2020 & mdash; Leechiu

Leechiu Property Consultants Inc. said Thursday the office market will continue to be a relevant segment of the real estate sector in 2021, as the economy begins to recover from the pandemic......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2021

Energy sector must boost supply ahead of demand

As energy demand declined amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s energy chief said the sector has the opportunity to catch up and boost supply prior to the resurgence of demand once the vaccine is rolled out and the economy fully reopens......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 27th, 2020

Commentary: COVID-19 is an opportunity for corruption, reform

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an array of issues to the fore— the risk of corruption being key among those. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 28th, 2020

Economy to improve in Q4 – FMIC, UA& P

The Philippine economy is expected to perform better in the fourth quarter of 2020 after the country’s industrial production and exports showed improvements in the third, First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) said on Wednesday. In their latest Market Call report, FMIC and UA&P said “a seemingly […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsNov 26th, 2020

DoubleDragon gears up for P14.7 billion REIT offering

DoubleDragon Properties Corp., the listed property developer of Edgar “Injap” Sia II, is gearing up for its P14.7 billion REIT offering amid renewed optimism in the stock market on the back of the gradual recovery of the economy......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2020

Profit taking weighs down stocks; BPI, GT Capital up

The stock market retreated Thursday on profit taking as the global rally fueled by vaccine optimism petered owing to the brutal reality of surging infections that are forcing fresh lockdowns and threatening to shock the global economy again......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 19th, 2020

Market advances; Dito, SM Investments rise

The stock market surged Wednesday on vaccine breakthroughs that can revive the global economy battered by the virus spread......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 19th, 2020

FSCC bares steps toward ‘new economy’

Recognizing the uncertainties brought by the current crisis, the Financial Stability Coordination Council (FSCC) identified various systemic risks and their planned steps toward the so-called “new economy.” In its latest financial stability report, the FSCC disclosed that changing market conditions prompted the bi-annual release of such data from the previous yearly issue so as to […] The post FSCC bares steps toward ‘new economy’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsNov 18th, 2020

Market set to rise above 7,000 points

Share prices may attempt to break the 7,000-point level this week despite the onslaught of recent typhoons that could dampen the growth of the domestic economy......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 16th, 2020

PH and global stocks soar on vaccine hope

The stock market jumped Tuesday on news that a vaccine candidate had been 90 percent effective in treating patients, fueling hopes it could begin to be rolled out this year and bring an end to a pandemic that has battered the world economy......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 10th, 2020

Virus waves and election jitters

This year, we have seen unprecedented moves in the stock market and the global economy which were caused by a once-in-a-generation black swan event......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 1st, 2020

Market rallies; JG Summit climbs

Stocks rallied Friday on bargain hunting to end a three-day slump, and on easing quarantine measures that are expected to limit the damage to the Philippine economy......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 30th, 2020

Stock market rallies for fifth straight day

The stock market rallied for the for the fifth straight day, bolstered by hopes of a possible rebound in the economy in the fourth quarter......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2020

Economic hopes, Wall St rally lift PH stocks

The stock market breached the 6,200 territory on Wednesday on hopes that the Philippines would continue reopening its economy and after taking cues from an enlivened Wall Street. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 2.71 percent or 165.88 points to end at 6,278.59 while the broader All Shares climbed by 2.16 percent or […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2020

Rice farmers seek bigger financial aid

The one-time financial assistance that the Senate directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide to rice farmers amid the declining prices of palay would not be enough, a group of rice farmers said. (MB file, Keith Bacongco) Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) National Manager Raul Montemayor said rice farmers have lost an average of P10,000 per hectare in the ongoing cropping season due to severely depressed palay prices.   This was his response to the joint resolution recently passed by the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, which ordered the DA to appropriate some P3 billion in tariffs from rice imports through the 2021 national budget for cash aid to rice farmers. Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which allowed unlimited rice importation in the Philippines, tariff collections in excess of P10 billion per year can be used for additional support to farmers, including cash transfers. FFF, however, noted that the proposed appropriation would only provide P5,000 per farmer if distributed to some 600,000 farmers tilling one hectare or less.   If the actual number of qualified farmers is raised to 1.1 million, the subsidy would only amount to about P2,700 per farmer. Either proposal will be unfair to equally affected rice farmers tilling larger areas, the farmers’ group said.   Instead, Montemayor said the government could keep palay prices stable by temporarily imposing safeguard duties or additional tariffs on imported rice. “The government allowed unlimited rice imports, resulting in low palay prices.  Now, it will spend P3 billion to partially offset farmers’ losses. If it had instead imposed additional duties on imports, palay prices would not have dropped too much, there would have been no need for cash aid to farmers, and the government might have even earned extra revenues from the safeguard duties,” said Montemayor. Under the Section 10 of RTL or Republic Act (RA) 11203, in order to protect the Philippine rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations, a special safeguard duty on rice shall be imposed in accordance with Safeguard Measures Act.   R.A. 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act, on the other hand, allows additional safeguard duties on top of regular tariffs in case an import surge is shown to be harmful to local farmers.   “Safeguard duties will not be inflationary as claimed by the DA, because they will be applied only when there is already a proven oversupply in the market.  They can be removed once the situation stabilizes,” said Montemayor. Agriculture Secretary William Dar is not keen on slapping additional tariff on rice imports, and has repeatedly appealed for public understanding about the “short-term” effects of RTL to palay prices. However, he promised to look for other solutions to the plea of the farmers like asking the National Food Authority (NFA), which buys palay at P19 per kilogram (/kg) to boost the government’s buffer stock, to intensify its palay procurement.   Instead of cash aid, the FFF proposed that existing funds from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and extra tariff collections be re-focused to address current problems of farmers.   It noted that half of farmers receiving free seeds under the RCEF had already been using certified seeds in the past, and that many were seeking other types of support that were not available under RCEF.   Numerous farmers have also questioned the DA’s promotion of seed varieties like NSIC Rc222, which is of poor quality and are being shunned by traders. “Also, the P5 billion annual fund for mechanization is not moving well, and it might be more practical at this time to preserve job opportunities for farm laborers instead of displacing them with machines,” Montemayor said.   “Moreover, the P1 billion budget for extension and training could be realigned, considering that farmers cannot attend training activities due to COVID-related restrictions. The P1 billion for credit could be better used for interest rate subsidies or loan guarantee programs, instead of direct loans which will benefit only 20,000 farmers,” he added......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

Full Recovery to pre-crisis levels likely to happen in 2022

It would take until the year 2022 for the global economy and market to fully recover, according to Pacific Investment Management Company, LLC, one of the world’s premier fixed income investment managers......»»

Category: techSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 10th, 2020

Stock market slips again; ABS-CBN, Puregold drop

The stock market fell for the second straight day Tuesday on continued profit taking, weighed down by lower factory production in August strongly suggesting the economy may have contracted again in the third quarter of the year......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 6th, 2020

Stock market up again; Dito, NOW lead gainers

Share prices rose again Friday on prospects of a further reopening of the economy after COVID-19 cases in the country appear to be plateauing......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2020

Index sustains uptick as key rates unmoved

The stock market sustained its ascent yesterday, clos­ing in positive territory after the Bangko Sentral ng Pili­pinas (BSP) left interest rates unchanged on Thursday to help stimulate the economy.c.....»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2020