Stock market crash and NBI woes

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ejlopez

As predicted earlier this year in this column in the January 29, 2013 issue of The Manila Times, stock market is set to crash. Now it did.

I’m not a cynic, but everything points to only one conclusion. It’s not a market correction but an “overhaul”; not insignificant plunge but a sizeable one. The amazing run of the local bourse was indeed something the economy has taken advantage of. Despite the fact that there was no direct stimulus to attract investors, it was able to create a bullish atmosphere in the local scene.

The only thing that works for us is the continued trust and confidence that the people have for the President, and that brought us to this positive milieu.

The shares market’s incredible run for almost two years has been primarily brought about by something temporary, something short-lived in character. Over and above the political stability that characterizes the local economy, there is consumer and government spending growth, but that lacks stability and permanence.

What the country needs are more durable investments spending that typify more progressive and stable economies, which could have been one of the reasons behind the “shares crash”. The positive performance of the local bourse as what has been repeated several times in this editorial is not so much our local economic indicators but more of the downbeat performance of the traditionally high performing countries like the Unites States and other “ivy league” nations. The close to decade economic downturn of these prominent and traditional economic performers has inevitably made countries in Southeast Asia including the Philippines a melting pot of investors who are left without options in investment destinations. But despite that, the type of foreign direct investments (FDI), which was captured locally, is insignificant to create a positive movement in our local economy, as proven by the unimproved unemployment rate that has stagnated, in fact accelerated the past year.

The exodus from the U.S and Europe was incidental and was never an urgent intention by investors. This was proven by the fact that up to now, no premium investors has ever entered the economy with complete technology that benefits the economy in all areas. The only investment that has wisely poured into our system are the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) which took advantage of our cheap labor but has not contributed immensely to our local technology and advancement except for employment . But in reality, it amplified the more serious problem of underemployment because college graduates who are supposed to occupy better positions contend themselves with being a call center agent rather than experience the grimmer dilemma of unemployment.

Investors have been on a waiting and observation mode as of late, but their perception of a more stable economy aside from political stability is yet to come. A more liberalized investment program and policy must be adopted to crystallize our earnest desire to attract foreign and local investors as well. And we can be off to a good start by streamlining our bureaucracy especially as regards investment and trade facilities to complement the perceived political stability of the current political leadership.

NBI clearance woes
If we are to choose one particular document that is of outmost importance for clearance requirements and other legal affirmations and activities, it is the NBI clearance certificate. In all areas of personal endeavors be it employment (local and international), passport, professional and/or civil service licenses, government examinations, name it and for sure they will require you to produce an NBI clearance. Subconsciously, this document is an incessant part of our economic development for it complements employment and other personal as well as professional undertakings that highlights the nation’s economic productivity.

When it started with its computerization many years back, we anticipated the ease in securing such document because of the perceived efficiency that this technology could offer. Yes it did under normal circumstances, plus the establishment of satellite offices provided a semblance of convenience for people who aspire for employment and the likes. This convenience however was not for everybody to enjoy because not all clearance applicants have the same circumstance, a circumstance that should have been addressed by this automation but instead it made life harder for some claimants.

When I applied for a clearance many years back (of course it was not computerized during the 80’s), at least twice when I was a fresh graduate, I had a namesake who has criminal record (If we are to look for one of the most common surname, Lopez is one of them), but it is not surprising, it’s one of the most popular surnames. After going through the tedious process of getting then the required court clearance and the likes, it was finally released. But the same dilemma happened again after applying for the 2nd and 3rd time.

What has computerization done to this agency? The supposed convenience of service the agency and applicants should have enjoyed as a result computerization has produced nothing. I was being delayed by the same charges that have been cleared more than 3 decades back! And to think that this charges could have already been settled simply by computerization. Don’t you have the software to do that? It is basic; the criminal record by the namesake was in the 70’s and it was already cleared and was already cleared by NBI clearance several times and up to now the computer has not cleared the same in its system? How many daily applicants experience the same problem and others? Imagine the inconvenience this incompetence has brought to our people and our economy as a result of such delay? This is basic and could bring efficiency, productivity and convenience on both parties and the economy had we been sensible and commonsensical in our bureaucracy. We would like to call the attention of the good NBI Atty. Nonnatus Caesar Rojas and of course the good DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima; this kind of trivial matters should not be left undone because it tarnish the good image of the bureau and the department as a whole.

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

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