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It’s becoming ever more clear that our dysfunctional, weak, inefficient, and corrupt bureaucracy is a binding constraint to growth and development. It belongs up there together with our low agricultural productivity, labor rigidities, and monopolies in strategic industries as major constraints for the country to attain its true growth potential.
On Nov. 7, during the Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, the Foundation for Economic Freedom, of which I’m President and co-Founder, received the prestigious Templeton Freedom Award. The Award was given in recognition of the Foundation’s work advocating and successfully pushing for legislation removing Commonwealth-era restrictions on agricultural patents, thereby immediately benefiting 2.5 million farmers and energizing the rural land market.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has been rightly hailed for reclaiming public space by removing illegal vendors plying their trade by occupying streets and sidewalks. However, some critics have pointed out that these vendors are merely trying to earn a living and would suffer tremendously if they were removed or relocated.
The purveyors of “zombie apocalypse” scenarios, as a friend put it, are at it again. They take the most extreme and scariest scenarios and project these to keep change from happening. Don’t change. Keep the status quo. Otherwise, the zombies will come and get you.
Not many people may realize it, but there has been a bountiful harvest of legislation from the 17th Congress. Both Houses of Congress have produced significant economic and socially progressive legislation since signed into law by President Duterte. Credit no doubt goes to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senate President Tito Sotto, both legislative veterans who know how to make their respective chambers productive.
My former college economics professor, Dr. Bernie “Dr. Boom” Villegas, was once quoted chanting the mantra of “agriculture, agriculture, agriculture” when asked about the development direction of the country. Indeed, while the political Left were enamored with “nationalist industrialization,” and rent-seekers with “import-substituting industrialization,” Bernie was an outlier. After all, agriculture was unsexy, while industrialization, with its image of mighty steel mills and factory sinews, represented progress and modernization.
In my last column, “The Structural Weaknesses of the Philippine Economy,” I said that the recent economic data show the structural weaknesses of the Philippine economy: low agricultural productivity, weak export growth, and undiversified export base, with much export concentrated in low value-added electronics sector.