Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 20 July 2012


While everyone in the media is playing guessing games on what President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address will be, including this year’s “gimmick” following his “Tuwid Na Daan” in 2010 and “Wang-Wang” in 2011, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has just put on its website its “StatDev 2011,” which essentially monitors the performance of the government in implementing the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016.

The StatDev, as the NSCB website tells you, is a statistical indicator system to monitor the achievement of the economic and social development goals set forth in the PDP, and is revised each time a new plan is formulated. So StatDev 2011 contains data for the year 2011, covering the nine sectors that are focused on in the PDP. What the NSCB does is compare the actual data for 2011 with the baseline data, and with the PDP targets that are contained in its companion volume,  the PDP 2011-2016 Results Matrices (RM).

But that is not all. The NSCB then calculates, using the same methodology that is used in tracking country performance in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (actual annual growth rate divided by required annual growth rate), the probability of attaining the target values.  If the probability is above 90 percent (i.e., actual/required is more than 0.9), the performance of the government is pronounced “good,” as depicted by a smiling green face. If the probability of attaining the target is 50 percent to 90 percent, the government’s performance is deemed “average,” meaning to say it can go either way, and the symbol is a yellow, nonsmiling face.  And if the probability is less than 50 percent, this performance is pronounced “poor,” as depicted by a frowning red face.

So if one is arithmetically challenged, all one has to do is look at the pictures of green, yellow and red faces opposite each indicator to get a feel of how P-Noy is doing in fulfilling his Social Contract with the Filipino People. And how did that come in? Because the PDP, dear reader, claims to be indeed the Social Contract, fleshed out. And just to make sure the point gets across, the RM tells you which of the 16 points in the Social Contract is being addressed by the indicators measured.

So how has P-Noy made out so far?  Well, actually not so far, because the StatDev covers only up to the end of 2011. It has not taken into account whatever 2012 data have become available. And even for 2011, according to the StatDev, there are 66 indicators that could not be monitored for lack of data (or for lack of specific targets).  Thus, “only” 153 indicators of the PDP performance could be assessed.

Enough already.  What is the verdict?  First the summary: Of the 153 indicators evaluated, the performance of 69 is rated “good,” that of 13 “average,” and that of 71 “poor.”  I confess, though, that I have pointed out to Jessa Encarnacion of the NSCB that one of the indicators adjudged “average” should have been judged “poor,” and she agrees with me (probably a typo).  The asset reform indicator: Land distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (in hectares) had 107,180 for the base year 2010, and 111,889 for 2011, with the target of 1.2 million hectares by 2016. Obviously, if only 4,700 additional hectares were distributed in the first year of the plan, when at least 150 hectares should have been accomplished, that performance cannot possibly be considered “average”!

In any case, it looks like the grade for 2011, as far as the Social Contract is concerned, and based on the StatDev, would have to be “Needs Improvement.”

It is possible, of course, that the indicators that showed “good” performance were the very important indicators, while those that showed “poor” performance were relatively unimportant. But that does not seem to be the case. As far as the macroeconomy—the overall performance of the country in terms of output, employment, and stability—is concerned, for example, there were seven indicators monitored in the StatDev. And what has to be at least one of the most important indicators, the growth rate in real terms of our Gross Domestic Product, showed “poor” performance. Why? Because the 2011 data showed a growth rate of 3.9 percent while the target was 7-8 percent. Two other indicators that showed “poor” performance were the exports-to-GDP ratio, both nominal and real.

Four macro indicators showed “good” performance: two having to do with employment and two with stability. To illustrate, 1.156 million net new jobs were generated in 2011 versus the target of 1 million a year. Darned good performance, actually.  The deficit to GDP ratio and the inflation rate were also on target.

Insofar as the agriculture sector was concerned, 35 indicators were assessed, of which 22 exhibited “poor” performance, 10 showed “good” performance, and 3 showed “average” performance.  Alas, palay production was one of the “poor” performers.  It is also noteworthy that among the 66 “critical” indicators excluded from StatDev 2011 was the rice self-sufficiency ratio. Apparently, there was no data available for 2011.

The NSCB must be congratulated for coming out with the development data in a most timely manner. But, as I said earlier, its assessment covers only up to the end of 2011. If the Reader wants a more up-to-date  (although less exhaustive) evaluation of P-Noy’s Year II, I invite her to go the website of the Movement for Good Government, of which I am proud to be a member (and nominal chair).