The business as well as policy makers are now deep in trouble and reflection in so far as the economic outlook of the country is concerned. Irrefutably, the more acceptable basis of projecting or forecasting growth is through numbers or statistical inference. It has been widely accepted that mathematics as represented by numerical values is an exact science. That is in contrast to other sciences where phenomenological occurrences’ thrive, and the conclusions to which leaves so much room for doubts and queries. It is therefore incumbent that the result of Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.2 percent last year is a reflection of an encouraging state of the economy, which leaves no doubt because of mathematical approach.
Who will contest that growth feat of 7.2-percent GDP? It is a summation of all transactions of the different areas of the economy in the field of agriculture, services and industry sectors. By all indications, this is a growth rate worthy of becoming a developed country, especially if we are looking at the consistent statistics of growth achievements through the years.
But as what Prof. Benjamin Diokno has stated in his talk at the Annual Ambassador Yuchengco Lecture held recently, that GDP is only one side of the coin. Yes its true that GDP may have grown, but what components of GDP have grown? Was the growth properly spread out? What about unemployment? Underemployment? Inflation and other consumer essentials? As what the research findings of the Ibon Foundation has stated, the country is living in an economically “undemocratic society,” because majority of the people is mired in poverty.
What benefit has this GDP growth given our supposed “local development.” Social Weather Stations (SWS) has released its recent survey that about 12.2 million Filipinos are unemployed. Ibon Foundation complements this by stating that 7.3 million are underemployed, 23.7 million are officially poor. Added to these is the fact that only 44 percent of those who are working in the urban centers enjoy the share of P466 per day minimum wage, meaning that the rest are working without the benefit of the minimum wage. Complementing these is the fact that about 79 percent of those who earn the minimum wage and above have declined real wages because of inflation or increased prices.
Noteworthy, however, is the fact that the land reform program has been pretty accomplished with 88 percent of the beneficiaries receiving their shares. On the part of the government, around 97 percent of those land reform benefactors have been fully paid.
What do these statistics tell us?
These are realities that stare right at the very faces of our people. How to translate this growth rate into more beneficial schemes that will accrue to the betterment of society remains unresolved. It looks as if the mere achievement of GDP growth is not enough to create relief and convenience to our people. We are living in the world of “economic abstraction” where an imaginary and creative mind is not enough to bring satisfaction to recipients. Try observing the world around you by driving around the metropolis, where the realities of life exists; where innocent street children who are victims of unwanted pregnancies and births are left out in the “wilderness of the urbanities,” their future remains a puzzle and in all probabilities will remain uncertain if not doomed. How does the GDP growth affect these innocent angels who are victims of irresponsible parenthoods? Added to these are the marginalized people that comprise a significant number in our society. Has the consistent GDP growth changed their life for the better?
A neighbor a graduate of a four-year degree course whose search for job remains futile because of nonavailability; a relative, a graduate of a refutable school but working as a call center agent, practically underemployed who would rather be in that position and lose self-esteem than be out of job. How did the GDP growth improve their lives?
First and foremost is how to immediately resolve the 12.2 million people unemployed in the country. The Ibon Foundation study reveals that the wealth of the ten richest men in the Philippines is equivalent to the wealth of 77 million average Filipinos! That is roughly equivalent to 79 percent of the entire population. Dr. Rodriguez of Ateneo corroborated these claims with his findings and categorizing that ours is an “elite democracy, where resources and opportunities are concentrated with the dominating class.”
The growth rate will remain farcical and vague unless the people in the grassroots who most need it feel its effect. Our claim to fame of improved people’s lives remains unfounded and the GDP growth remain an abstraction to “Juan Dela Cruz,” unless and until these effects of growth will become fully affective of our people’s lives. In the first place, the real state of economic development should be the improved economic status of the people; and how we will accomplish that remains a challenge that present government as well as other governments behind us have not successfully determined . . .
Here’s a toast to a Joyous and Memorable 2014 Hearts Day to all our friends and readers!
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