Monday, May 31, 2010

Midnight benchmarks

According to a front page story in one of the local dailies, a 7.3 per cent growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) was registered in the first quarter of this year, compared to the moribund 0.5 percent of the same period in 2009. Amazing indeed, but suspicious nonetheless, even if election-related expenses were taken into account. The cynic in me feels that such glaringly optimistic and flattering reports about astounding last-minute economic growth can have only one purpose-- to erode our confidence in the in-coming government of president-apparent Noynoy Aquino.

Acting Secretary Augusto Santos of the National economic and Development authority (NEDA) said he expects the 7.3 percent GDP growth to be sustained in the second quarter. Why not? After all, the Arroyo administration will officially end on the last day of the second quarter. NEDA director for national policy, Dennis arroyo, was pleasantly shocked because traditionally, first quarter growth is never ever that high. However, warning signals were emitted by the above-mentioned agency.

The El Nino and La Nina are tops on the national worry-list followed by Greece's debt crisis which might have adverse effects on our lucrative industry, the exportation of overseas workers. Then follow the endemic lack of competitiveness, inadequate infrastructure (specially for tourism), low tax collection and the high cost of energy. Agriculture shockingly posted zero growth.

I caught bits of a radio report that said something about six million jobs being generated by the still present dispensation; whether these were created here in the country or found abroad by Filipinos, it was not explained. Does that include the 1.73 million jobs generated by the incredible 7.3 percent GDP first quarter growth? Only the NEDA can tell.

Analysts of Goldman Sachs ( of all people!) have been lavish with unsolicited opinions; they said the Philippines is poised for economic recovery (as if we ever admitted a crisis) and will sustain its high GDP, at least through the second quarter of 2010. Why is the Arroyo administration setting such insurmountable benchmarks, and at midnight?

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