It is not so much about branding the Philippine peso but the country itself and its current growth rate. Official numbers tell us our growth rate for now stands at 7.2 percent, positioned to be sustained over the next decade.
The economics and statistical data, indeed, show an upward movement. However, that growth scenario is challenged by the fact of inequality among the supposed beneficiaries of such growth, a situation that also besieges neighboring countries. With a population growth rate at 24.5 per 1,000, it seems improbable that we can ever catch up in pulling the population out of poverty. Consumer price inflation rate currently stands at 3.2 percent. It was recorded at 4.10 percent as of February.
According to the National Statistics Office of the Philippines, the rate averaged 8.92 percent from 1958 until 2014, reaching an all-time high of 62.80 percent in September of 1984 and a record low of -2.10 percent in January of 1959.
What does all this tell us? Unless you can invest your money above the 4-percent inflation rate you are losing on your investment annually. As per the China Daily or the Asia Weekly—Indonesia is projected to grow the fastest in the region, with the Philippines being second. This may be good news, but with the investment platform available, one loses the value of his money annually. Condominium and residential developments have become more of an expense rather than an investment given the more than 30 percent vacancy rate, coupled with the high and unaffordable association dues tenants and owners are made to bear. This seemingly bleak outlook gets dimmer with the OFWs, or what we call our overseas foreign workers, being the target market of these developments still lacking the investment savvy needed to appreciate the “opportunities” being peddled to them.
Now are we branding the growth of the peso or the Philippines as a country? Either way, official financial data may deliver information that all seems positive. But with indicators of inequality also climbing, the picture is not all that rosy. Not everything spells growth. Our politics has hampered growth the past decades, and there is no guarantee the same problem won’t continue given that elections will soon be underway. We are facing the same oligarchy that many of our neighbors have to deal with. Our utility rates are possibly the highest in Asean, infrastructure remains poor or sees no solid development, and foreign investment in the country is probably the lowest in this part of the world. The brewing conflict with China will not make things any better, not to mention the Muslim tension that continues to simmer in the south. We also have other flashpoints with our neighbors such as Malaysia—the ownership issue over Sabah.
We cannot at this point brand the country and the peso, not until we are able to deliver with consistency the brand promise that has remained elusive, much less the integrity required to make a national brand worth its people’s pride, not yet at least.