Measurable goals (1)
The government, in conjunction with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, again held a forum dubbed “Sulong Pilipinas” so President Duterte’s economic team can get the business community’s inputs on the top 10 priorities to address in 2018.
The format used was the same as the one employed last year in Davao City just before Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency. It’s a very successful methodology. From last year’s forum came the 10 points that have proved their validity and relevance over the past 12 months, and will continue to serve as the backbone of the administration’s socioeconomic programs.
This time the forum took only one day as against the two days in Davao, and was, I think, a little too rushed because of it. In the future, if it’s to be only one day, the content should be strictly economics/business. The social welfare aspect, which was discussed in the afternoon, could be set elsewhere—and with a different crowd mix, as it, too, is important.
A number of Cabinet secretaries were present, pretty much the whole economic team, and the President arrived at the end of the day to hear the results and give his response.
Ten points in business’ “wish list” were agreed on, and the President assured everyone that these would get action priority. Let’s hope so. We had kind of lost hope of getting anything we wanted done in the previous administration.
Mr. Duterte came to power promising rapid action. I suspect he wasn’t fully aware of how lethargic and absurdly complex the bureaucracy can be, and is. And that, indeed, was one of the 10 recommendations: “Improve the ease of doing business through the convergence of different agencies.” That’s good, but in itself not enough as it’s only one aspect of the bureaucracy. A shakeup of far wider proportions is needed. It requires a new mindset, a new attitude of public servants, and not only the improvement, simplification and convergence of systems. No system can work without the people’s active support.
The issue I liked best was “completion of the Circumferential Road 6.” Not because it’s the most important (it’s well down the list), but because it’s detail-specific, and can be seen to be done or not in July 2018, when we next meet to assess and discuss. C6 will connect the Skyway through the FTI in Taguig City to the Batasan Complex in Quezon City—or it won’t.
Something like “improving health services by expanding PhilHealth coverage” is certainly high on the priority list as it can help ever so many Filipinos. But what are the benchmarks? What will say it was achieved, or wasn’t? It’s a nice motherhood statement that doesn’t “demand” that action happen. I’d like to see a government task force work with business compatriots, a technical working group (TWG), over the next four weeks (max) to come up with specific measurable goals to achieve. For example, 200 outpatient health clinics will be opened by June 30, 2018. And so on.
I’d like to see TWGs organized for all 10 issues, to set up similar detailed plans. We need to rush things a lot more than we have in the past, and do so in a more time-bound way.
How do you measure “rallying the government and the private sector to drive growth and competitiveness”? That’s awfully general, awfully motherhood, too. Who wouldn’t want to do that? But what does it involve? What outcome could be expected? I’ve no idea; I don’t want to be in that task force. But I do want to see one created. They may need more than four weeks—perhaps eight?
I like “identifying the best competitive advantage versus other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.” I’ve always been a firm believer in niche marketing: focusing on one thing where you have competitive skills, and doing it exceedingly well. That’s the principle upon which I formed my business 34 years ago. I’ve been a CEO; I knew what they needed, and in what form they needed it. I focused on providing it. I think 34 years of a successful business has proved that the concept works.
The world’s top athletes are where they are because they have an inherent advantage — a superior physical skill that we mere mortals don’t have — and honed it.
Wallace_likeitis@wbf.ph. Read my previous columns: www.wallacebusinessforum.com.
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