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Like It Is

Measurable goals (2)

/ 05:24 AM August 24, 2017

I ended last week’s column with the comparative advantage that the Philippines has over its Asean peers.

What does the Philippines have that makes it inherently better than its neighbors? As an example, I’ll suggest an ever so obvious one: minerals. We have gold, nickel and copper, and other countries don’t. We could be astoundingly successful in mining if we did it right, did it responsibly, and did it with full support and adequate control. Countries in the Middle East got incredibly rich, not through hard work, but because they had oil in the ground, siphoned it out, and sold it. The money came in an avalanche.

But there are other areas; let a joint technical working group find them. Again, in four weeks. That’s enough time, if full time is devoted to it. It’s time to break the mold of bahala na.

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“Improving land tenure security in all areas” is easy. All you need to do is put in place a fully computerized land titling system (models abound) and implement it.

“Addressing the job-skills mismatch” is essential in today’s high-tech world — but what skills? What are the jobs needed? Not today, but tomorrow and many tomorrows. A TWG should identify the specific job needs of the future.

As to “improving agricultural support infrastructure and services such as farm-to-market roads, cold storage, and irrigation,” this has been on every government’s list since Noah left the ark—and has seen little improvement hereabouts since then. Treatment of farmers and fishers has been appalling. No government has cared beyond spouting sycophantic words. We don’t have farm-to-market roads, we don’t have cold storage, or irrigation. We have endless promises to provide them. So let a task force come up with specific numbers: X kilometers of roads in (list each province), XX thousand cold storage facilities, and so on. Measurable goals.

On the ninth priority recommendation — to bring in a third telecom player, because the public is unhappy with the two—I’m not convinced. This is a small market, revenue-wise. It’s a capital-expensive market because of the country’s archipelagic nature and the frequent upgrades in equipment. And the desirable frequencies have been captured. It will need a brave, well-funded company to enter. I suspect that will be hard to find.

I’d rather look into what Globe and Smart need to be able to provide better and faster service, and help them get it. I’d look into that first, and only if the requisite performance is not achieved should we look beyond them.

Finally, there’s “resolution of the crisis in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.” I’m not sure why that needs to be said. I think the military is doing a marvelous job at conquering these terrorists with as little loss of human life on our side as possible.

What more can we ask, or expect? I’m DU30 on the other side — kill them all.

We don’t need murderous terrorists in our world that have no regard for innocent human life. I want peace, but there’s nothing we businessmen can do to help achieve it. I wouldn’t know which end of a gun to hold. What we can do is actively help in the rebuilding of Marawi. And we should help, not just in token ways, but in meaningful ways that will give these poor people a halfway decent life again, as swiftly as possible.

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The one I wanted included, and I’d have listed it instead of the Marawi crisis, where we can do little, is emergency powers for the Department of Transportation to accelerate relieving the traffic disaster that we suffer every damned day. How can Congress have sat on this for 12 long months? We need infrastructure and bypassing of bureaucratic roadblocks now. Not under the next Congress.

So there you have it — another successful forum of business and government working together. Now comes the hard part: doing it. You can’t just have a forum to identify the issues, and then sit back and rub your tummy. Now you have to work to achieve success. You have to set goals and achieve them.

Wallace_likeitis@wbf.ph. Read my previous columns: www.wallacebusinessforum.com.

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TAGS: Like It Is, Peter Wallace, Philippine comparative advantage, Philippine economy, Philippine politics
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