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

2014 in review thru “Get Real”

This end-of-year column, like last year’s, is a review of the topics I covered in the 40 previous columns I wrote in 2014. Since those topics presumably touched on the “hot” issues of the day, it would be interesting to know what they were, and to find out how they were resolved (if ever).

Christmas and future cheer for Northern Luzon motorists

My wife and I took an early Christmas trip to Baguio last week. What used to be a drive of more than six hours took only four hours. Adding the usual leisurely break we often made at the half-way mark, the trip was five hours in all.

Bilibid and the military

Two events occurred this week which, taken together, are as unrelated as you can get, but I hope to connect the two before we reach the end of this column.

BOI versus PEZA: ‘guided’ versus ‘more open’ industrial policy

The success of PEZA, though, is not enough to pull the industrial sector substantially forward. PEZA firms, however plentiful, are in general dwarfed by the total size of the national economy and by the sum of all industrial firms serving only the domestic market.

Luizhan: small steps to farm efficiency

The village of Xiaogang was the birthplace of the first agricultural revolution in China. It was called the Household Responsibility System which allowed farmers to produce for sale in the market rather than for the collective and saw farm productivity soar. The Chinese leadership recognized what was already going on underground and legalized it.

What happened to funds for low-cost housing?

The victims of killer typhoon Yolanda continue to suffer because of lack of permanent housing. And even before they have recovered, Typhoon Ruby rudely visited them. The very few houses that have been built, most did not withstand Typhoon Ruby. So, what happened to President Aquino III’s promise to “build better?”

Congratulations are in order

“Ruby” has come and gone, and in her wake she has left a country and its government in receipt of congratulations from the international community. On the domestic front, however, the praise seems very faint. The silence, in fact, is deafening.

PEZA — successful foreign investment attraction, diversification, and growth

The Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) is the one successful agency that has helped to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the country, increased the employment of Filipino workers, and expanded and diversified our exports to the world.

A disappointing year — was it self-inflicted?

What is the contribution of the government sector to growth? In 2014, it will be, at best, neutral, and, at worst, negative since public construction and government consumption of final goods continue to decelerate. What is sad is that these are the areas where government activity can directly influence growth.

Administration obsessed with ‘savings’

Instead of preparing the budget well, President Aquino III and Budget Secretary Abad are obsessed with generating as much “savings” as possible in the 2015 national budget. Is this in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that parts of the DAP are unconstitutional? Or is it part of a plan to generate enough savings to...

Ona is not, never will be, a politician

Here’s a comparison of the two cases: Purisima was suspended after four or five months of investigation leading to the Ombudsman’s decision to suspend him. Ona was effectively suspended even if there were no charges against him from the Ombudsman, Department of Justice, or National Bureau of Investigation.

Washington SyCip on Cesar Virata

"I would like to say -- and I have said this many times before -- that except for Cesar, there is no other person who went through all the Marcos years without a blemish on his career."