About Per SE

Commentary and research on current events and public policy by economists from the University of the Philippines
Monthly archive August 2014

Costly mistakes in our nation-building

Big mistakes in nation-building arise out of unwise decisions. Small mistakes that serially get repeated are big mistakes.

When the ‘super-branch’ of government flexes its muscles

Has President Aquino III gone mad? Through the DAP Mr. Aquino has usurped the congressional power of the purse, effectively making Congress an adjunct of the Office of the President. Not content with his capture of Congress, Mr. Aquino now wants to clip the powers of the Supreme Court.

What if ‘politically motivated’?

The favorite defense of politicians to charges against them, especially when they cannot answer the charges, is that they are politically motivated, and therefore not to be believed. But how does “not to be believed” follow from “politically motivated”?

Genesis of the Cesar Virata biography

At the last minute, I shelved my finished topic for today. I will discuss instead my new work: Cesar Virata: Life and Times through Four Decades of Philippine Economic History.

Underachieving: the new normal?

Is underperforming in revenue raising and spending the new normal? If so, shouldn’t Congress question the ability of the Executive Department to raise P2.3-trillion revenues and disburse P2.6 trillion in 2015?

Stalled by an unpredictable, uncompetitive tax regime

Ever wonder why the Philippines has attracted the least foreign direct investments into the country, compared to its ASEAN-5 neighbors? The Philippines has the highest corporate income tax rate, one of the highest personal income tax rates, and an unpredictable way of honoring VAT refund.

Investing in ‘suprastructure’ in the run-up to AEC

(with RL Clarete and GP Concepcion) Much has been said about our country’s huge infrastructure deficit, particularly in transport, power, and water. And criticisms or suggestions on this vital issue loudly persist which are just kosher till the public sees palpable improvements. By contrast, little is said about our deficient ‘suprastructure’.

Cesar Virata: Life and Times Through Four Decades of Philippine Economic History – A Brief Review

The book, authored by Gerardo P. Sicat and published by UP Press, provides a broad sweep of post-war economic history, yet it instructively details important aspects of how economic policy evolved. It offers a valuable macroeconomic perspective on our country while discoursing on the varied roles played by the subject in the economy.

Government employees no longer the downtrodden

It surprises my students when I state that the unemployed generally are less poor than their employed counterparts (or, stated differently, the poor cannot afford to be unemployed), and that government employees are not among the poor.

The domestic price of rice, food security policy, and world rice prices

Why must we pay a high price for rice, a basic staple? A kilo of rice at retail costs about twice as much what our neighbors spend. Moreover in recent years, rice prices, aside from being already high, have been rising.

Saying it in his favor

The question was whether President Aquino would use the information provided by the National Statistical Coordination Board’s StatDev 2013 as relevant inputs to his State of the Nation Address. He didn’t.

Stop digging that DAP hole

Budget Secretary Butch Abad lied when he said that previous presidents (from Cory Aquino to Ramos, to Estrada, and to Macapagal-Arroyo) had used DAP-like mechanisms in the past.