Economic and political outlook

Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

Traditionally, the last month or better still the last days of the year is done reminiscing how the past year was spent or utilized. People would normally use this understanding as a gauge or a basis for future actions. They would come out with some realizations that the year was either a lucky or a not so lucky year. There would always be “landmark” actions made that would highlight these events, either positively or negatively. As such everybody wishes everyone a “Prosperous New Year.”

Looking back, the soon to be concluded year is generally a bullish year and perhaps one of those where growth and prosperity factor was a distinguishing characteristic.

Despite several downtrend in the bourse, it was generally perceived to be a banner year for the local stock market. More than enough times the stock index breached the 6500 index points. The trust that portfolio investors have shown was unprecedented that even the less elite who previously have no idea how these things work, have shown interests in the bourse as an investment goal.

International credit rating agencies have shown their approval on how the economy has been managed. Despite no exceptional economic and business acumen was shown by the current economic managers, the “charismatic” leadership of the late President Cory Aquino that was shown by the current leadership, illustrated the high confidence that investors have manifested in the local economy.

The consistent growth achievements the current year has commenced showed the economy’s competitive stance. Gross domestic product (GDP) had an average growth of 7.4 percent for the first three quarters of the year, and a possible 7-percent growth rate for the full year illustrate the local economy’s resiliency despite several political misgivings.

Several times have prestigious international credit rating agencies upgraded our status until we have breached the investors rating mark. This has put us in the limelight of investment friendly nations and economies and a possible line up to the Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) in the not so distant future.

All of these were accomplished despite the relatively high inflation rate, unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, chronic budgetary deficit, customary trade deficit, and the usual revenue collection shortfalls.

The growth factor accomplished from all indications is mere temporary relief based from all the indicators we mentioned. The growth achieved came from very volatile indicators like consumer spending, real estate, manufacturing but significantly few or almost nil from the investment category. This is reason why unemployment remains relatively unmoved since last year since there is no indicator that will stimulate its movement, which is investment. Unless and until this area or indicator is realized, our growth achievements will remain a “flash in the pan.”

This, as a matter of fact has been negatively complemented by the harsh natural calamity that struck Eastern Visayas where an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people perished and about 11 million people have been affected. Affected in the sense, their livelihood has totally been washed out by that dreaded typhoon. The number of people affected is the same number of people deprived of their income, and the region which is much less deprived of its contribution to the regional GDP, will be in the situation at least until after four years when the region hopefully will have a semblance of normalcy.

It will become apparent this coming year, of what will be the effect of the typhoon devastation to the economy. When all foreign aid will come to a halt and everything is brought back to normal, what will become of the region that was affected? To say that they can go back to their normal economic life is an overstatement considering the extent of damage. Government assistance should be sustained lest the place will be a wasteland including its people, which prior to this have been contributory to local as well national growth.

2014 crucial year
The forthcoming year looks crucial for this administration. Aside from the growing perception of weak political leadership and several political boo-boo’s, which has become more apparent lately, the people are still waiting for the promise of economic salvation to materialize. The pledges of big time investments to the local shores remain to be seen.

The continuous descending trend of the President in the trust survey lately could be an indication that people are getting restless and looking for a more concrete result in the improvement of their lives. No matter how you make them realize and understand, the important thing is to eradicate hunger, which according to the latest survey has increased. The people in the grassroots are the most vulnerable and the ones that need utmost attention. They have waited long enough and should not be required to wait further lest they grow impatient. Unless of course we are again ready to utter the remarks “Bahala kayo sa buhay nyo!” then let’s see what’s next . . .

From my family to yours, “our wishes and prayers for a bountiful 2014 for all of us!”

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