About Per SE

Commentary and research on current events and public policy by economists from the University of the Philippines
Monthly archive January 2013

A call to paranoia

2012 should go down in Philippine history as a magical year. But a year -- however kissed by fortune -- does not make an era. And we need at least an era of persistent good news to bend the arc of our history.

Provision of law inserted to benefit lawmakers

The insults, revelations, accusations being hurled or insinuated on the Senate floor have riveted public attention, which of course is to be expected, because who can resist all these juicy tidbits after all? But the trees should not distract us from the forest. Let’s not forget the big picture, please.

Grand financial scam

In the present “straight path” regime of President Aquino, one would think that the days of corrupt officials and financial schemers and scammers will be numbered. Apparently not. I’m referring to the activity of an amorphous organization, the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation (PDEx) which has been lording it over the trading of government securities....

Assuring robust growth for 2013

There is now more unanimity that the Philippine route toward sustained growth could be happening in our future. Achieving a high growth rate would help signal this important new direction.

Agriculture key to inclusive growth

The key to strong, sustained and inclusive growth in the Philippines is the performance of the agriculture sector. Yet, policymakers continue to ignore the strategic value of agriculture to economic output, employment, and poverty reduction.

The Philippine stock market (Part II)

There are various explanations for the current stock market boom in the country. Certainly, the fundamental reasons are on account of better macroeconomic conditions. However, some external factors accentuate further the positive influences that are attributable more to luck, like “grace falling from heaven.” The world economy is simply in bad shape so that...

Cutting behemoths to size

A “behemoth” is a mythological beast mentioned in Job 40:15-24, and metaphorically refers to a big and mighty entity. The name seems appropriate in reference to the powerful tobacco and liquor industries, besides other monopolies and oligarchies in the country.

Illusion of fiscal success

Fiscal managers are quick to boast that the lower-than-planned deficit is a “success.” Really? I see it as a twisted spin of a negative outcome, failure masquerading as success. How can the lower-than-planned budget deficit be a success when it was characterized by huge revenue shortfall and serious underspending in public infrastructure?

Budget as political tool

The evidence that the Aquino administration is using the powers of the presidency to enhance the victory of the ruling party in the elections is written all over the national budget. The discretionary 1-billion fund for additional grant to local governments and the 250-million Empowerment Fund. Both funds are to be disbursed by the DILG...

One Galileo case is enough for the church

I got a copy of What Happened at Vatican II by John W. O’Malley, SJ, and it is a fascinating read. What O’Malley does is give the reader not just the results but also the context of the topics discussed, a flavor of the discussions/debates, as well as the backroom maneuverings that took place...

Shooting a moving target

The Aquino administration which has expressed strong commitment to openness and fiscal responsibility has made monitoring of government projects even more difficult. At the same time, it has reneged on its promise to improve governance by building up public institutions. It has weakened rather than strengthened budget rules.

Political reform

It's the big elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about it, but the broken political system has been a major constraint to growth in the Philippines. Real political parties don’t exist. Candidates for public office are chosen not by well-established political parties but by polling agencies. Winnability becomes the only criterion. ...