OFFLINE: Weak economic growth is Junior’s gift to the Filipino people

It looks like it will be back to the drawing board for the regime of Bongbong Marcos.

This, after a local think tank said last week that the projected six to seven percent economic growth target for this year will not be met.

As the head of the IBON Foundation said, it will be “impossible” to achieve the targeted growth rate.

Junior’s apologists will say otherwise by claiming that while the economy is already far behind where it should be to hit that target, things will move faster in the second half of the year such that the six to seven percent GDP growth will be hit by yearend.

So sorry, folks, but it won’t.

There are several reasons why the not-so-high target cannot be reached, with the global economy being one reason why the Philippines near term prospects will not be rosy.

In short, the best way to push the economy forward is either through massive exports or through local consumers looking forward to a bright future, spurring them to spend, spend, spend.

Foreign investments can also be a factor, and in this area all we’ve been seeing are smoke and mirrors. The Marcos Jr. regime says all those mega investments will come in due to the constant traveling of the boy president.

His regime likes to harp on the pledges he supposedly receives from foreign investors, especially the big businessmen from whatever country he feels like visiting.

This regime never gives straight answers when pressed to say exactly how much has actually been plunked into the Philippine economy compared to the promises Junior received.

The biggest excuse is that some of those promised funds will be coming in over an extended period of several years.

IBON’s Sonny Africa expects the actual growth to be in the vicinity of five percent. This is neither good nor bad, just mediocre at best.

Look at all the Asian economies that are now practically at developed nation status. There’s one thing that they have in common, and that is a period of export-fueled double digit growth.

This is something that has never happened in the Philippines. It’s almost as if the economic planners are afraid of pushing local exports to meet their maximum potential. In effect, they’re saying that Filipino manufacturers and service providers are good, but not good enough. At least not world class, like their peers in such states as South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

And let’s not forget Japan and yes, that new bully on the block, China.

Some economists have been saying that endemic corruption is one factor holding the Philippine economy back.

Not so fast, boys. Thailand is another of those countries moving ahead at a respectable pace, and graft and corruption is just as bad there as it is here.

The current regime is now saying that the country boasts of one of the fastest growing economies in the region, but avoids stating that the growth is coming from a small base. So of course, it can grow at a seemingly healthy pace, but not when compared to other countries in the region which only need to sustain their previous growth, or at least come close to it.

It’s not just IBON saying it, but other analysts will point out that the Philippines remains bogged down by high inflation, joblessness, and poverty.

One recent survey says that about half of the Filipino people feel themselves poor. That alone says that whatever growth will be achieved this year will be insufficient for the vast majority to suddenly say that the country is now in the midst of the best of times.

There’s another factor that says whatever growth is achieved this year will still be less than what it should be or could be, and that is the incredibly inflated national budget.

This current regime is wasting funds like crazy, almost as if it is their policy for all senior government execs to make hay while the sun is shining.

Take a good look at the government corporations whose executives suddenly gave themselves massive pay increases. Then look at the hundreds of millions being allotted to so-called “intelligence funds.’

To this day, no one can say why the administration of the late former President Noynoy Aquino could achieve exceptional growth with hardly any department receiving intelligence funds.

Then look at the massive budget for travel that Junior has demanded that he be granted by Congress.

Now compare the number of foreign trips that two former presidents took during their six years as chief executive. Specifically, look at Noynoy  Aquino – him again! – and even Rodrigo Duterte. They never took large contingents with them when they had to travel abroad, did they?

I daresay that the national budget can be trimmed by as much as 15 percent if the wastage of funds – tax money, actually – were minimized.

Remember the late dictator and namesake of the current president?

In his time, he laughingly called for “austerity” given the precarious situation his government found itself in as a result of his and his wife’s excessive spending.

At a certain point, the dictator found that the Philippines could no longer pay for its external debts and was forced to practically beg the country’s lenders to not foreclose on the economy.

No, he did not do the begging himself. He had his supposed technocrats do the negotiating, and the country was forced to take such bitter pills as letting the peso fall drastically.

Here’s a little lesson from the past worth remembering. At the time Marcos Sr. became president, one US dollar was worth four Philippine pesos. During his time both as legally elected and re-elected president, all the way to his illegitimate martial law era, the peso did not nothing but fall, and fall, and fall some more.

And where is the peso now under his son? Soon enough, the exchange rate will be sixty is to one. Good job, boy.

This is what I mean when I say that the country’s best economic planners have all been pretty lame in the global stage.

And I know that some economists will say that this is an oversimplification, but tell me. Why have some Western European and Asian nations attained a stage where all their citizens can be considered rich by most standards?

Extended periods of strong, stable growth is one reason.

Marcos Jr and his sister the senator have said on several occasions said that he ran in order to save the family name. The way he’s mishandling the economy, the Marcos name will be more despised than before he cheated his way to the presidency.

Indeed, weak economic growth will be Junior’s legacy to the people.