In this epidemic, Duterte has his priorities – all wrong Business և economy

In the last few weeks, community warehouses have grown like mushrooms in the Philippines. The poor, with no other options, lined up in the heat of the summer to threaten COVID-19 simply to get what President Rodrigo Duterte’s government had so far failed to do – economic aid.

The sudden rise in community reserves reflects not only the scale of the Philippine economic crisis but also the degree of government neglect. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 9.5 percent in 2020, the worst economic downturn in the Philippines since World War II. Gross per capita income fell to 2015 levels. Countless businesses, especially small ones, had to close down and cut their employees’ salaries. Unemployment has risen, with more than three million Filipinos unemployed by March this year.

They hit the poor especially hard. Six of the 10 Filipino households were starving by the end of 2020, և 5.5 million Filipinos could be in poverty if the government could not provide them with adequate assistance.

The Philippines has also suffered the most from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, suffering the worst economic downturn in the region and the highest unemployment rate. The Philippines is also recovering at its slowest.

Duterte economic managers liked to advertise the strong macroeconomic fundamentals of the Philippines before the epidemic. But in the tangled state of all economic indicators, it is already now, but a distant memory.

Epidemic response

The current downturn, the first in nearly three decades, stems from the Duterte government failing to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its effects.

Unlike countries like Vietnam, in the Philippines, the government has not taken immediate action to stop the spread of the virus. Last year, the government imposed severe blockades, but at the same time failed to increase its ability to overcome the health epidemic. This in part led to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in April, forcing Duterte to put the capital շրջ and surrounding provinces under severe blockade. This has hurt the economy even more.

The Philippines was also the last country in Southeast Asia to launch its own vaccination program. To begin with, the Duterte Epidemic Working Group was unfortunately prepared. While Congress has authorized the purchase of vaccines for ,5 82.5 billion ($ 1.7 billion), only միլի 2.5 billion ($ 50 million) is available for use. Most of it, 70 70 billion ($ 1.45 billion), is like a non-financed check under separate “uncalculated allocations” and the rest (միլի 10 billion, $ 200 million) is a service fund run by the Treasury. still trying to work

The ball was fired again when the vaccine compensation law was passed late. Vaccine manufacturers demanded additional protection against possible lawsuits, probably due to highly politicized dengue vaccines a few years ago. Despite being aware of this compensation condition, the Duterte working group informed Congress too late. This unnecessarily delayed the distribution of vaccines. Ները The Philippines lost to countries other than Sinovak to supply vaccines from manufacturers.

As of May, donations and purchases had reached a dose of about 7.7 million vaccines, but the vaccine is still moving at a snail pace. Unable to overcome the barriers to procurement, logistics and administration, the Duterte government continues to lose its goals. Even the tsars of Duterte do not know exactly when the next installments will be reached. And to make matters worse, about a third of Filipinos still refuse to be vaccinated.

Scratches on relief

More and more countries are realizing that in addition to the need to boost health care systems, economic recovery must be driven by fiscal stimulus. Governments need to spend actively, strategically, to ensure that their economies do not collapse in response to the epidemic.

But it is sadly clear that the Philippine government’s fiscal response is not only desirable, but also focused on the wrong things.

The Philippines has been overly conservative in the face of the economic crisis. According to the International Monetary Fund, last year Singapore spent about 18 percent of its GDP on its financial responses, followed by Thailand (9.6 percent), Malaysia (4.9 percent), Indonesia (3.8 percent) and Vietnam ( 3.6 percent). In contrast to the Philippines, the budget was 3.1 percent.

Duterte’s fight is sadly evident in the priorities included in the misunderstanding of the 2021 budget. Assistance չկա There is no significant funding for economic assistance, as was the case last year. Instead, the government has spent nearly a quarter of its 4 4.5 trillion ($ 93 billion) budget on infrastructure, particularly sponsorship projects such as local roads and apartment buildings, which are likely to be in next year’s general election. In short, it’s a normal business,, poor Filipinos continue to be the least of the government’s concerns.

In April at the State of the Nations conference (pre-SONA) forum, government officials emphasized the continuation of their infrastructure project called Build, Build, Build, and put in place measures that will primarily help corporations and big business. In particular, they trumpeted the economic economic trio, which will reduce corporate income tax rates, help banks unload bad loans, solve companies’ liquidity and solvency problems.

Some lawmakers are calling for a new stimulus package called Bayanihan 3, which will, among other things, provide massive economic assistance to low-income households, low-income workers, farmers and fishermen. But economic managers have been pushing for it for months, arguing that instead the government should spend on the 2021 budget, the rest of the two stimulus packages adopted last year. They also claim that mass aid cannot be paid, as additional loans could damage the country’s credit rating.

Such an unfounded brawl has not only led to ineffective drainage, quarantine measures, which have led to contagious shocks prevailing in the country’s healthcare system, but also to a lack of economic assistance, pushing more and more Filipinos into poverty. The Duterte government also failed to tackle another epidemic (African swine fever), which recently boosted food inflation and worsened economic poverty.

It is not uncommon for private sector volunteers across the country to come together to organize community warehouses, take over food and aid distribution. Although hailed as a respected “bayanihan” or a modern embodiment of the Philippine community spirit, these community cellars are also a convicting indictment of the president’s inability to lead his cabinet during the crisis.

Give more help

It is urgent to cross Bayanihan 3, which will provide massive economic assistance, in particular, cash transfers to the most vulnerable segments of society, employment assistance to the unemployed, small business wage subsidies. This package should also make sure that the beneficiary families can pay the costs and debts they have incurred over the past year or so.

Vaccine acquisition and administration should also be rapidly reversed to focus on effective diplomacy to ensure proper vaccine supply.

The Philippines is desperate for economic growth, but considerable uncertainty still hangs in the air. In the absence of a significantly strengthened health care system, the economy will continue to slip. For millions of Filipinos, especially those who live hand in hand every day, the future is as bleak as ever.

In the coming months, the nation will inevitably turn its attention to the 2022 elections, and more and more government officials will be involved in politics. But the urgent needs of Filipinos – food, financial aid – to solve vaccines – there is still time to rearrange costs, not useless roads – apartment buildings.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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