SONA and the business front

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Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

Although late in the day to still discuss about it or further “whip” the already black and blue State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, there are areas that may have been addressed or not yet pertinent to the current essentials in the economic and business front.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd has focused so much on the microeconomic component, yet indirectly related to the furtherance and growth of the economy. The so-called “creditable” accomplishments of police enforcers, the criminal activities of our local police forces which should have been better left to the expert handling of local police agencies, were unnecessarily highlighted. It should be borne in mind, that this was an annual report of the chief executive meant to echo the macro performance of the nation in the past fiscal year. In the political and economic fields, positive reviews should have been highlighted that would encourage development. The objective is to please all sectors of the society. Instead, personal achievements that were actually part of the duties and responsibilities of the chief executive were recounted. More important factors like the real state of the nation, which should have been heavily centered on the economy, seem to have been overlooked. Potential investors looking for basis to strengthen their decision to do business locally are left in a quandary. Except for the consistently encouraging trust ratings, investors are left to fend for themselves. In the long run, it could create a backlash in our desire to attract investors, because local economic stability should stand on solid grounds and not mere perception.

The President’s annual report should have given so much hope on the economic development and ought to be apolitically approached, and considered by whoever will take over the helm of power from him in 2016. Many times interrupted by his trademark stuttering, perhaps brought by his enthusiasm of bringing at once his message to the public, the President failed to deliver the missive of what the real state of the economy and the nation was. The only consolation that we are pinning our hopes on is the continued positive ratings we have, as far as the business environment is concerned. Although not perfectly stable, the economy is getting its strength from the continued optimistic stance of the business and the citizens as a whole.

The President’s delivery of his SONA was made more significant this year and the past years, because it was done in the vernacular therefore making it comprehensible to the locals. But it would have been doubly significant had the President delivered it in the English language for the sake of foreign investors who we are more after, because of their essential participation to our economic growth and development. It would have been more circumspect for the President to deliver it in English as what others before him had done, in order not to isolate other nationalities who would have wanted to hear the state of the nation direct from the President. Despite the availability of translations, it would have been more cordial and friendly for the President to deliver it the traditional way. I surmise that it would have been more positively perceived by “would-be” investors had the SONA been delivered in English.

Despite the numerous rhetoric’s delivered by the President, in which some have to be empirically realized and verified, the centerpiece of his SONA is primarily geared toward the agricultural sector and its development. The President is on the right track in his thrust of prioritizing this area, because around 60 percent of our employment depends on the agricultural sector.

Stocks are upbeat
Perhaps buoyed by the much-awaited SONA of the President regardless of its content, it added to the upbeat mood of the stock market. This is an essential political indicator of financial market movement, for as long as it doesn’t antagonize other components of growth. Despite the relative vagueness in its essence, the optimistic mood in the predominantly bullish market has helped the benchmark stock index rebound from the downside. Overall, optimism in the Asian economies is another factor that fueled the upbeat mood, and added to the local bourse’s positive mood, creating temporary stability to local shares and the market as a whole.

Although the SONA did not clearly outlined the macroeconomic priorities, in contrast to what others have perceived, the local economic movement is stabilized by turn of events that includes investors’ optimism, which seems to be built-in in the current leadership. This to a greater extent has been complemented by the recovery of the Asian market and the roller coaster state of the United States economy. Despite the protracted bullish mood in the local market, the economy will remain shaky, because it doesn’t augur well with other indicators like employment, which includes underemployment and the sticky issue on hunger incidence which remains unresolved.

If there is any consolation, however, the collective support of both houses of Congress added to the consumers and investor’s confidence, that remain unperturbed, which will push the economy further forward and hopefully achieve the long aspired dream of the country to become a tiger economy.

For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com with cc to: opinion@manilatimes.net.

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