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Tag: Bienvenido S. Oplas Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC -- The various presentations at the Heartland Institute’s 13th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-13) on July 25 in this city reiterated what many scientific papers from the fields of meteorology, geology, climatology, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, etc. have found -- there is no climate crisis or climate emergency.
SEOUL-INCHEON AIRPORT -- An impressive new terminal greeted me here and it will definitely make many Filipinos wish that we have a similar airport soon. This is huge, spacious, and modern, with Wi-Fi that is fast and free. I am here waiting for my connecting flight to the US.
Last Monday, upon the invitation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), I attended the 2nd Logistics Services Conference and Exhibition at the Philippine International Convention Center. I was invited as media and I attended the press conference led by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, flanked by leaders of various private industry associations and government officials from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Export development Council the International Finance Corp. ), and the DTI.
As argued in previous columns, I advocate integrated Public–Private Partnership (PPP) -- construction then Operations and Maintenance (O&M) all done and financed by one private entity -- and not hybrid PPP -- construction via foreign loan or national budget, O&M by local private entity. I like the development in some provincial airports that become bigger, more modern international airports, privately owned and managed, and helping attract more foreign tourism, investments and commerce.
Two weeks ago, this column argued for the President’s veto of HB 8179 or the Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. (SPSBC) franchise bill. I quoted the objection speech of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Chairman of the Committee on Energy, on why the bicameral report should not have been ratified.
I regularly write on the monthly inflation rates of East Asian economies, and since 2018 until May 2019, the Philippines has been the “inflation valedictorian” of the region because our inflation rate is nearly two to five times those of our neighbors.
Populism, or the appeal to pacify the masses and demonize the corporations and “elites,” seems to be getting louder under the Duterte administration than under its predecessors. I will briefly discuss three sectors -- water supply, power development, and mining in this light.
Among the factors given why President Duterte’s Senatorial bets won and shut out the opposition in the May 2019 Senatorial elections were: a. high popularity of the President; b. high visibility of his build-build-build programs; c. reduction in inflation in 2019; and, d. failure of the opposition to convince voters that they are the “right group to lead the charge.”
Among the records of the outgoing Congress is the legislation of a cronyist bill, the Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. (SPSBC) franchise. It is so unpopular that perhaps all other power developers and generation companies (gencos), both conventional and renewable energy (RE), perhaps all private distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) in the country have opposed it.
Passengers and commuters want convenient, safe, and faster mobility to reach their destinations. There is great inconvenience for people who take multiple rides (tricycle, jeep or bus, MRT/LRT, jeep again to destination, reverse the process going back home). Taking a taxi is good but there are many complaints like choosy drivers, robbery, or sex molestation inside the cab, etc.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released the Labor Force Survey (LFS) April 2019 last week and the result was generally good compared to April 2018: both unemployment and underemployment rates in 2019 have significantly declined, and labor force participation rate (LFPR) has increased. Thus, the labor force Q1 data seem to contradict the GDP Q1 data where growth has decelerated further.
Some good news in the world energy sector here. One, world oil prices keep falling, WTI is now only $51+ per barrel vs $62 a month ago and $75 in early October 2018. Two, the US cemented its role as the world’s largest oil producer, its output now 12.4 million barrels per day (mbpd) vs. 8.8 mbpd at the end of the Obama administration. Three, the oil-price decline is despite joint OPEC + Russia oil production cut to force higher prices. China is perhaps the world’s biggest oil consumer but it remains a mid-tier oil producer.
Metro Manila is composed of 17 cities and has a population of 13.1 million in 2016, the 18th largest city in the world. This 13 million would swell to around 15 million at daytime when people from neighboring provinces come to the big city to study, work, do business and so on. This is big, but not so big compared to other cities around the world like Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai. Other Asian cities will soon have 10+ million people like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh (see table).
Many economists along with other social scientists and social philosophers, enjoy playing God, by which I mean laying out in detail their own private versions of the “good society” without being required to suggest ways and means of implementing their precepts or even defend these precepts with democratic political processes. -- James Buchanan
SYDNEY -- This will be one of the topics at the 7th Australian Libertarian Society (ALS) Friedman Liberty Conference + World Taxpayers Association (WTA) Conference from May 23-26 in this city. The event is mainly sponsored by the Australia Taxpayers Alliance and co-sponsored by other free market institutes like the Property Rights Alliance (PRA, USA).
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.