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Tag: Bienvenido S. Oplas Jr.
Sydney – The Philippines held its mid-terms elections last May 13, and “man-made” climate change, “more renewables” were marginal if not non-issues altogether for many of the national and local candidates. The energy issue was whether there would be any blackout because of the series of yellow and red alerts (insufficient power supply and reserves) many weeks before Election Day.
ON May 29-31, the big “Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity” conference will be held at the International Convention Center Jeju, South Korea. It is an annual international and geographical platform to discuss diplomatic, economic, political and cultural subjects that include the North-South Korea relations, Korea-China-Japan-US relations and many more.
Kuala Lumpur -- I just attended the “Asian think tanks dialogue on Innovation, Competitiveness and Development” in Kuala Lumpur sponsored by the Geneva Network (UK). The event, last Wednesday, was attended by mostly free market-oriented and independent think tank leaders with participants from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines (me), Singapore, S. Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Kuala Lumpur -- During the May 2018 Malaysian elections between former PM Najib and returning PM Mahathir, the latter was an underdog, he promised that if he wins, he would abolish the gross sales tax (GST) of 6%. He won, he did what he promised, and GST went down from 6% in May to zero in June. Result was drastic, across the board price declines and inflation rate went down from 1.8% in May to only 0.8% in June 2018. The average inflation January-May 2018 of 1.7% became 0.6% in June-October 2018.
In election years, the Philippines’ GDP growth rate is always above 6.5% – except in 2001 (terrorist attack in the US, Gloria Arroyo anemic growth) and 2019. Philippines’ growth trajectory is on a downhill: 6.9% in 2016, 6.7% in 2017, 6.2% in 2018, and only 5.6% in the first quarter of 2019. Growth deceleration since Dutertenomics was invented is further confirmed.
Until last week May 3, another yellow alert has been issued by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) because of insufficient reserves due to the following: (a) forced outage due to earthquake of GN Power Mariveles (316 MW), (b) unplanned/forced outage of SEM Calaca U2 and Team’s Pagbilao U1 (582 MW), and (c) derated/reduced capacity of five power plants (736 MW). Total 1,634 MW unavailable, that’s big.
As the mid-terms election approaches, we see and hear more “good economic news” coming from the administration. The goal is to dupe the voters into voting the administration senatorial and congressional candidates. Numbers below show that the administration is spewing half-truths.
Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are 100% part of the Philippines’ “geological DNA.” This is because we are in the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and our entire archipelago seems to have protruded from under the sea. Thus, if there were no “violent” volcanic activities, there would be no Philippines.
Rule of law means the law applies equally to unequal people, no one is exempted and no one can grant an exemption. Granting exemptions, say, in the law against stealing or murder automatically leads to the rule of men where the powerful and the mob are exempted from penalties for violating certain rules.
Unlike physical property which is tangible, intellectual property rights (IPR) are intangible, like copyrights of songs, patents of newly invented medicine molecules, trademarks of known brands, and trade secrets. Thus, public appreciation of IPR protection is not as high as physical property protection.
The Philippines, with more than 7,500 islands and islets, lots of white sand beaches, waterfalls and mountain resorts, has a huge potential in tourism yet we are not optimizing it due to certain policy and infrastructure bottlenecks like small airports and small number of airlines per airport.
The good news in Philippine inflation is that the numbers are declining in the past three months of 2019. The bad news is that even such “low inflation” is actually the highest in East Asia, among the more mature economies with updated numbers. Dutertenomics should be ashamed of this.
The ride-hailing, food- and cargo-delivery, other technology-based service sector is a modern and fast-rising one in the Philippines and in Asia. It helps people and companies conduct their travels and businesses become more convenient and safe. The sector should get further Market-Oriented Reforms for Efficiency (MORE) to aid further modernization and competition, which will benefit the public.
In a September 2017 paper, “Implementing the 10-point Socio-Economic Agenda,” the Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP) made 22 recommendations for the power sector, among which are: (1) Support and approve the massive energy investments, (2) Increase the system reserve requirement to 25% of peak demand vs the current 17%, and (3) Formulate an energy road map (generation portfolio mix) with power supply quality, reliability and affordability as key objectives.
The official campaign period for local and Congressional candidates for the May 2019 started last Friday, March 29. Tens of thousands of candidates plus their supporters went out on the streets and reached out to media to get the support of the undecided.
The Market-Oriented Reforms for Efficiency (MORE) series continues and tackles the air transportation sector. For an archipelago of more than 7,500 islands and about 20 are big islands with big populations, and air travel is necessary to hasten the movement of people and goods.
Starting this week, this column will produce a series of Market-Oriented Reforms for Efficiency (MORE) articles related to recently enacted laws and proposed legislations in the Philippines on various sectors. Thus, recent Republic Acts (RA) and some pending bills for bicameral committee meetings after the May 2019 elections will be discussed.
“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.” -- Milton Friedman (1912-2006), Nobel Prize economist
“The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition...is so powerful, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.” -- Adam Smith, Book IV, Chapter V, The Wealth of Nations (1776).
“The over-all speed of advance will be increased by those who move fastest. Even if many fall behind at first, the cumulative effect of the preparation of the path will, before long, sufficiently facilitate their advance that they will be able to keep their place in the march.” -- Friedrich Hayek, Chapter 5, The Constitution of Liberty (1960)
The second Trump-Kim Summit in Vietnam this week, February 27-28, points to many good and optimistic scenarios not only for both US and N. Korea but also for the ASEAN, East Asia and the rest of the world.
Most anti-coal activists would resort to disinformation and deception to advance their ecological leftist agenda and in the process, deprive energy consumers of the opportunity to have cheaper, stable and reliable 24/7 electricity, badly needed to sustain fast growth and generate more jobs for the people.
MODERN day socialists and populists in governments, explicit and implicit, are aware of the limits of governments giving all sorts of endless, no timetable subsidies, discounts and other welfarist programs. So they invented a new form of welfarism — forcing private corporations to give mandatory discounts (restaurant food, medicines, fare in public transportation, etc.) to people, rich and poor no distinction. Politicians and governments get the credit while corporations get the financial burden as those forced discounts cannot be used for tax deduction.
On the Philippines’ GDP growth rates, the good news is that from 2010 to 2018, the Philippines has been growing above 6% yearly except in 2011. High growth was experienced in 2010 with 7.6% (recovery from 2008-2009 global financial turmoil) and 2013 (election year) with 7.1%.
The cronyist “Solar para sa Bayan Corporation” (SPBC) franchise bill (HB 8179) was magically passed by the House of Representatives despite opposition by many groups in the energy sector. Among the oppositors is the Developers of Renewable Energy for AdvanceMent, Inc. (DREAM), the umbrella organization of all RE associations in the Philippines.
The Philippines registered a 4.4% inflation rate for January 2019. The good news is that it is a lot lower than the past four months’ average of 6.1%, but the bad news is that compared to our neighbors with January 2019 data, it is the highest. In the ASEAN-6, three have near-zero inflation while Indonesia and Vietnam have below 3%.
The Senate is once again the battleground of public debates on many issues. This is because it is still deliberating its own versions of House Bills (HBs) passed on third reading, and the official campaign period will already start on February 12 -- which means all congressional activities and meetings will cease and resume only after the May elections.
At the UP School of Economics Alumni Association (UPSEAA) sponsored “Economic Briefing” on Jan. 25, the speakers were DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno and NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia. My former teacher in undergrad and graduate economics, Sir Ben Diokno said in his presentation that with high GDP growth in 2017 and 2018, “Duterte hit the ground running.”
Until about the 1960s and 70s, Philippine business was dominated by the land-based and a few real estate wealthy families like the Zobel-Ayalas. Things changed in the 1980s in both politics and business and when the Marcos dictatorship collapsed along with its huge cronies.
The Philippines has a huge and increasing economic potential mainly because of its big population, estimated at 108 million as of mid-2018 and the 13th largest in the world. Which means more entrepreneurs and workers, more producers and consumers.