There are a lot of things that account for changes in a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and even more that account for movements in the rate of change of that change. Certainly the the quality of the government may have something to do with where the GDP goes. But then who knows? Considering that even the brightest hot-shot economists failed to anticipate the abyss that the global economy plummeted into in 2008 and that the mightiest nation on the planet would be facing a “fiscal cliff” in 2013, haven’t we learned yet that no small finite set of people much less one person can really be credited — or blamed — for any hiccup or convulsion an entire economy undergoes?
The lesson is obviously lost in presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda who still believes that a single government and, presumably, one president can be given credit for a “surge” in an entire nation’s GDP…
[…] Lacierda attributed the high growth rate to “sustained confidence in the leadership of President Aquino and his administration, which has consistently equated good governance with good economics.”
He was of course referring to the much-celebrated 7.1 percent growth in the Philippines’ GDP over July through September of this year which reportedly put the Philippines second only to China in the list of fastest-growing economies in the world over that period.
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The Philippines’ third-quarter growth rate–just behind China’s 7.4% rise–made it the best performer in Southeast Asia, where economic performances during the period ranged from a 6.17% expansion in Indonesia to a 5.9% contraction in Singapore.
The country’s services sector, which accounts for half of gross domestic product, expanded 7.0% from a year earlier, while construction and manufacturing growth pushed industry up 8.1%. Agriculture, which accounts for a fifth of GDP and employs four out of 10 Filipinos, rose 4.1%.
The Wall Street Journal report also highlights that this result underscores “a shift toward domestic demand and away from a reliance on exports to keep the economy ticking over,” which of course is good as such an outcome shields the economy from the weakness of the overall global economy, particularly that of the United States and Europe. However, that report fails to mention that up to 12% of the value of the Philippine economy is accounted for by the remittances of hundreds of thousands of Filipino overseas foreign workers (OFWs) and a vast expat community residing in North America, Western Europe, and Japan. Considering that OFWs can arguably be considered a form of export — human export — we could reasonably conclude that, contrary to that report, the Philippines’ reliance on exports remains largely the same
This also puts the Journal‘s assertion that the Philippines is “one of the most resilient economies in Asia” to question when we consider that the country’s aspirational peers in the region — Malaysia and Thailand — both enjoy very negligible dependence on the remittances of an overseas workforce to buttress their economies.
If the bright boys of the Journal can get it so wrong about the Philippines, what more the famously-clueless presidential spokesperson?
Indeed, back in early 2011, Lacierda also made a similar albeit even more daft assertion when he claimed — just four months into the term of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III — that an improvement in the Philippines’ ranking in the global corruption index reported by Transparency International that time “somehow reflects the Aquino administration’s determination to promote good governance.”
You gotta wonder: perhaps all the President’s men just sit around their offices waiting to pounce on and lay claim to the next positive statistic to come along. Then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Perhaps the Philippine economy is best left alone. After all, as I have for so long maintained:
Great nations were not built on good intentions. They were built on business sense. Real change in Pinoy society will never be achieved through the “sacrifice” of altruistic “heroes”. True change will be driven by people who find no shame in expecting a buck for their trouble.
For whatever we gain in our GDP, perhaps we have more to thank our demonised “greedy” businessmen for than our “prayerful” politicians.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.