Marcos Jr. doesn’t have an economic stimulus plan

  • Reading time:8 mins read

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., one year into his presidency, has no program to stimulate the economy or fight inflation decisively. If Marcos does not go beyond slogans and Hallmark card-like admonitions to his people and fails to unveil such economic programs during his term, we’re doomed to another era of mediocre economic growth, so vulnerable to shocks from abroad. “Bagong Pilipinas” is certainly not a plan.

The lack of such programs is the elephant in the room that businessmen and opinion-makers have refused to acknowledge. Big businessman Jose Ma. Concepcion 3rd, an avid supporter of Marcos, was just being polite when he said the other day, in the context of the official proclamation that the Covid-19 emergency has ended, that it is “time to focus on the economy.”

What? Marcos had to wait for the official announcement that the pandemic had officially ended before moving on to “focus” on the economy? Hadn’t the pandemic practically ended a year ago, approximately in June when cases dropped to about 3,000, with the virus becoming weaker and lockdowns no longer undertaken?

The lack of an urgently needed economic program becomes so stark with the following examples of such initiatives, here and abroad:

– Philippines, Case 1. When the US financial crisis spread to become a global economic crisis, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo launched in February 2009 on her own, without the need for laws, the so-called Philippine Economic Resiliency Plan. It was a P330 billion stimulus package broken down as follows: P160 billion representing an increase in the 2009 budget; P40 billion from tax cuts; P100 billion from government financial institutions and social security institutions; and P30 billion of additional benefits to social security members. The plan mitigated the impact of the global financial crisis so that GDP didn’t contract, growing 1.4 percent in 2009 to bounce back strongly to 7.3 percent in 2010.

– Philippines, Case 2. When the pandemic hit the Philippines in early 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte, in two months’ time, got Congress to enact the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.” It allowed the president to “reallocate, realign and reprogram” a budget of almost P275 billion from the 2020 national budget to be used to fight the pandemic. It was a very organized and well-funded initiative not only to provide the medical and health services to control the pandemic but also to provide the necessary financial help for Filipinos thrown out of work as a result of factory shutdowns and general lockdowns. As a result of the Duterte plan, after the economy contracted at a severe 9.5 percent rate in 2020, it strongly bounced back to 5.7 percent growth in 2021 and 7.6 percent last year.

– Indonesia. In November 2020, the Widodo administration enacted the “Job Creation Law,” also known as the “Omnibus Law,” as it dealt with nearly all problems the government saw as impediments to growth. The Unctad described the law: “It aims to attract investment, create new jobs, and stimulate the economy by, among other things, simplifying the licensing process and harmonizing various laws and regulations, and making policy decisions faster for the central government to respond to global or other changes or challenges. The Omnibus Law has amended more than 75 current laws and will require the central government to issue more than 30 government regulations and other implementing regulations within 3 months. zones, providing more incentives to free-trade zones, creating a land bank supervisory authority.”

– United States. Despite the intense acrimony between the Democrats and the Republicans over major government policies, the US Congress passed a bill that was signed by President Biden in August 2022 called the “Inflation Reduction Act.” The law aims to raise $738 billion from tax reform and prescription drug reform to lower prices, as well as authorize $891 billion in total spending — including $783 billion on energy and climate change. The law represents the largest investment in addressing climate change in US history. It also includes a large expansion and modernization effort for the Internal Revenue Service.

Our inflation rate has been zooming higher than even that of the US, mainly due to higher food prices. Yet we do not have a plan to contain inflation, except for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ staid moves to raise interest rates. And, oh, Marcos, as concurrent Agriculture secretary, is supposed to be in charge of containing the prices of agricultural products. That is another elephant in the room nobody dares talk about.

Laws

How many laws has the Marcos administration managed to pass after a year? Twenty-one, six of which have nationwide implementation. These are the required national budget for 2023; a law requiring registration of SIM cards; a law prescribing clear guidelines for top positions of the armed forces, including a fixed tour of duty; one that postponed the December 2022 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections; the condonation of loans incurred by beneficiaries of land reform; and, of course, the law that sets up that intriguing Maharlika Investment Fund.

It looks like having his cousin as speaker of the House of Representatives didn’t speed up lawmaking much. It seems that the Senate presidency has lost the gravitas and wisdom of past Senate presidents.

Of course Congress hasn’t been sleeping on the job, and they passed 16 other laws that Marcos has signed into law, such as the conversion of Carmona municipality into a city, one establishing a national high school in Barangay Bolila in Malita, and of course the one granting citizenship to Justin Brownlee, a former US basketball star who since 2016 has been playing with the San Miguel Ginebra team, purportedly so he can play for our national team in the Southeast Asian Games.

What kind of laws should Marcos pass? Former Finance secretary Margarito Teves, in an article last December, pointed out the major obstacles to economic growth that laws or executive action should urgently address:

“Supply chain service delivery. The last Logistics Performance Index in 2018 ranked the Philippines in 60th place, while Thailand ranked 32nd, Vietnam 39th, and Indonesia at 46th place out of 160 countries.

“High power costs and low power grid integration. Aside from having one of the highest power rates compared to its Asean peers, PH power grids also have a lower ability to switch to alternative energy sources.

“Relatively slow broadband connection. Internet speeds in the Philippines have significantly improved over the past years. From ranking last among Asean countries in 2014, the Philippines now has the fifth fastest internet speed in the region. However, as of end-2021, average internet speed in the country (50.26 Mbps) remains lower than the Asean average (69.18 Mbps). In terms of broadband infrastructure, the Philippines has 22,834 cell sites compared to Vietnam’s 70,000, Thailand’s 60,000, and Indonesia’s 36,700 sites as of 2021.

“Corruption. Data from Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index shows that corruption in the Philippines is seen to be increasing. From ranking 95 out of 180 countries (with rank 180 having the highest perceived corruption) in 2015, the Philippines’ ranking has steadily declined to 113 in 2019, 115 in 2020, and 117 in 2021.”

I hope I don’t throw something at the TV screen if Marcos again today says, as he did in his first SONA, “The state of the nation is sound.”

It may be sound, but only for big businesses, especially the monopolists whose scions he is fond of drinking wine with. Very worrying is that if our president thinks that way, then there is no need, no urgency for formulating and implementing a clear and organized plan to stimulate and develop the economy, whose growth the masses direly need even if it only trickles down to them.

Marcos will be the victim of his own success if his landslide victory in 2022, Filipinos’ high satisfaction ratings for his presidency, and the strong 7.6 percent bounce-back of the economy after the pandemic delude him into a “What-me-worry?” frame of mind.


Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

Twitter: @bobitiglao

Archives: www.rigobertotiglao.com

Book orders: www.rigobertotiglao.com/shop

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Dorina S. Rojasd

    There is no stimulus but I see a lot of responses already. Maybe we should provide the stimulus by asking first where we are now. I must have lost myself in an ocean of rhetorics and theories that are waiting to be concretized.

  2. Jonathan B. Bangui

    Fool Again by Westlife
    I should have seen it coming
    I should have read the signs
    Anyway, I guess it’s over
    Can’t believe that I’m the fool again 😁😂🤣

  3. Many of the DDS supporters are already having buyer’s remorse for supporting BBM just because he got Sara as VP. I still think it was a mistake for Sara to slide down as VP for BBM, she could have beaten him handily. As we all know, she got more votes for VP than BBM got for Pres. That is why the camp of the Speaker and the usual pinklawan talunans are trying to bring her down this early, everyone knows she’s a shoo-in in 2028.

    Among the DDS socmed influencers who were very instrumental in 2016, many have called out BBM’s blunders, only those directly benefiting from BBM and the First Lady’s PR budget are staying silent, like RJ Nieto (Thinking Pinoy) who inexplicably got the funds to study abroad after BBM won plus the usual hangers-on who were really Marcos loyalists more than Duterte supporters.

  4. Rockney G. Nuyda

    Stimulus? what? imitate an economy like the US? walang stimulus stimulus dito. Ayuda meron, and it’s being done, for 3 years now that’s the Phil version of stimulus. Masyado kang nagbabasa kasi ng Wall Street Journal Mr Tiglao. hehe, Chill.

    1. Stimulus just means printing more money to give to individuals and businesses. Any country can do that since fiat money isn’t backed up by anything anyway. Stop comparing everything to what the Americans are doing, you are just showing your inferiority complex and colonial mentality.

  5. jojo simeon

    I totally agree with you Mr. Tiglao. I truly hope and pray that BBM’s voters realized that BBM has no plans for the Phils.. As mentioned by Mr. Tiglao, CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES IS INCREASING!!!

Comments are closed.