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Are we overtaxed?

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Today being the last day for filing income tax returns, and given the pinch (bite?) that comes with this annual ritual, perhaps a great many of us would readily answer the above question in the affirmative. Interestingly, even our tax authorities may actually agree, as Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has recently been quoted as if to suggest so. This came in reaction to Senate Bill No. 2149 recently filed by Ways and Means Committee chair, Sen. Sonny Angara, proposing to reduce the top income tax rate from 32 to 25 percent. Earlier, Senators Ralph Recto and Bam Aquino had filed SB 749 and SB 1942, respectively, both also proposing to adjust income tax rates to “reflect new realities.”

Posted: April 15th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Bangsamoro’s economic prospects

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Hopes run high that the newly signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will pave the way for a new era of economic dynamism in Muslim Mindanao. With violent political conflict hopefully now behind us, departure from the economic stagnation that marked the region’s recent history could yet turn it into a vanguard of growth for Mindanao and the entire national economy.

Posted: April 8th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

The challenge of inclusive finance

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Access to financial capital, or lack of it, could well be the single most critical factor that has widened the gap between small and large farms and firms, and indeed, between the haves and have-nots. One might say finance has been the “great unequalizer” that has fostered noninclusive growth in our economy over the years.

Posted: April 1st, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Keeping kids in school

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I recently caught a TV journalist’s encounter with three boys hauling farm produce as she chanced upon them on a mountain trail. She asked them if they go to school at all, and the boys answered yes. But they had been absent for two days to earn some money for their family. I encountered a similar case first-hand a few years ago when my research team chanced upon a little girl selling delicacies at the passenger dock in Masbate as we awaited the ferry to Pilar, Sorsogon. We were on a field study on rural poverty, and decided to interview our young subject. Asked if she goes to school, she said yes. But she had to work on that particular day, she explained, as the family direly needed money. This scenario is played out every day all over the country.

Posted: March 25th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Truck ban: the bigger picture

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Did the city government of Manila do the right thing when it started banning heavy trucks from its streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. last Feb. 24? After a three-day strike by truckers, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada allowed “window hours” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for trucks with loaded containers on a two-week trial period. Last week, the two-week trial was extended to six months. Still, this leaves trucks with two hours less to ply the city streets, compared to previous rules that only banned them within 6-9 a.m. and 5-9 p.m. Now the city council also wants a share of the income from port operations, citing that Manila “continues to unduly bear the brunt of very demanding and extensive port-related activities,” while its people suffer from increased traffic congestion, pollution, structural road damage and risks of vehicular accidents.

Posted: March 18th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Paradigm shifts in agriculture

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If our economy’s brisk economic growth of late has failed to uplift the lives of far too many Filipinos, we only need to look at our farms to see why.

Posted: March 11th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

More reforms, more jobs

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Creating more jobs, as we all know, remains the foremost challenge for our economy in the years ahead, even as brisk rates of economic growth have lately put the Philippines ahead of the pack in South East Asia, and even Asia as a whole.

Posted: March 4th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Drivers and dampeners

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What propelled the economy in 2013? What hampered it? What will drive the economy in 2014, and what will dampen it? What do these imply, especially on how the benefits from economic growth are felt all around?

Posted: February 25th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Investments: our crying need

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Headlines last week bannered the 27.5-percent joblessness rate reported by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in the fourth quarter of 2013, a large jump from the 21.7 percent rate reported in the third quarter.

Posted: February 17th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Value chains for rural development

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How much of our recent economic growth benefits the Philippine countryside? Too little, it seems. Agriculture, the most dominant economic activity in rural areas, contributed a mere 0.1 percentage point to the 6.5 percent gross domestic product growth in the final quarter of 2013, while services and industry contributed 3.5 and 2.8 percentage points respectively. This pattern of growth does nothing to make our economy’s overall brisk rate of growth permeate more widely across the country’s economic sectors and geographic areas. With 70 percent of poor Filipinos residing in rural areas, we cannot keep doing things the same way and be content with getting the same results. We simply must get the rural sector to grow and develop much faster than it has over the years.

Posted: February 11th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Sotu and Super Bowl

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I was in Washington, DC a week ago when US President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union (Sotu) address, the American counterpart to our own President’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Painless business permits

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I could understand why Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is among the most business-friendly mayors I’ve known, was unhappy with my recent piece citing results of the 2011 “Doing Business” report of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Posted: January 27th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

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