The Philippines economy will grow by 7% this year, the only country among the Big Five of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to have been upgraded by the International Monetary Fund. The Fund also forecasts a 6% growth in 2014.
Such robust growth takes place despite a slowdown in major markets like the United States, Europe, China and Japan as well as a marked slowdown in the emerging economies.
The 7% growth will take place despite a rash of recent scandals in the Philippines – the growing outrage over pork barrel (cash perks of congressmen, at P70 million each a year, and senators, at P200 million each a year, for petty community projects), the water overpricing scam perpetrated over the years by the two major water concessionaires – the Ayala-owned Manila Water and by the First Pacific-managed Maynilad Water of tycoon Manny Pangilinan, the recent spate of bombings in Mindanao; and the rampant smuggling at the Bureau of Customs which President Aquino himself has described as a cesspool of corruption – to name just four major scams/scandals that are nipping at the moral moorings of BS Aquino’s matuwid na daan (straight path) anti-corruption program.
Previously, the IMF had projected Philippine GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate of 6.0% in 2013 and 5.5% in 2014.
Translated into pesos, a 7% real GDP growth or minus the effect of inflation means economic production at constant 2000 prices of P6,753.5 billion, an increase of P63 billion from real production of P6,690.4 billion if growth had been 6% as originally projected by IMF.
Economic output or GDP in the whole of 2012 at current prices was P10,546.9 billion, an increase of P858.6 billion or 8.8% from the P9,706.3 billion output in 2011. Real GDP growth in 2012 was 6.8%. Subtract 6.8% from 8.8% and you get what they call the GDP deflator, 2.0%—the impact of prices on economic growth.
Assuming the same two percentage-point GDP deflator for 2013, GDP at current prices should hit P11,496.12 billion (2% deflator plus 7% real GDP growth or 1.09% of 2012’s GDP at current prices of P10,564.9 billion). The Philippine economy will grow this year by P932 billion (almost P1 trillion) at current prices.
The Philippine economy is worth P11.49 trillion this year, up from P10.54 trillion last year. Including income from abroad, you have what is called Gross National Income or GNI which amounted to P12.608 trillion in 2012. This year, the Department of the Budget and Management projects a P14 trillion GNI.
Taken from the point of view of a P14-trillion economy, the scandalous P27-billion a year total pork barrel allocation of congressmen and senators seems like small change. Even taken from the point of view of a 2014 budget of P2.3 trillion, the P27 billion is still small change—just 1.17% of total annual appropriations.
No wonder, our honorable congressmen and senators cannot be perturbed from their ivory tower despite calls for an accounting of where the money went (they pocketed most of it) and calls for an end to the insidious system of congressional allocations.
There is something disturbing about the scenario of a large emerging economy growing robustly in spite of corrupt leaders and bureaucrats and amid a global slowdown. Our leaders are becoming irrelevant.
I liken the Philippine economy to a huge iceberg floating in the ocean. With its sheer size and momentum, the massive chunk of ice is moving by itself at a rapid pace. On top of this iceberg is a rat. Because he is on top, the rat claims to be the leader directing the iceberg and claiming credit for its movement. The rat is not doing anything. It is an honest rat.
This iceberg led by a rat metaphor is a lie. It is the ultimate scam being perpetrated on our people. We don’t have leaders to bring us to salvation. The hope is that one day, the iceberg will smash into pieces the Titanic corruption among leaders, in government and in business.
Don’t worry, the nation won’t sink. We are a Catholic country. And hey, it’s more fun in the Philippines.