Thursday, May 3, 2012

Economic Development Through Good Governance and Active Social Involvement

By Gilbert M. Forbes

Through the years, many parts of the country particularly the rural areas are and have remained poor.  Though, could not fully blamed on the national government but still, it has something to do with bias and unequal economic policy which give less and less focus on agriculture beneath the fact that it is the life-blood of the majority of the poor—at least 70% of them.

Considering that Agriculture is a least economic priority, it is not
surprising that most of the poorest of the poor are coconut farmers.
 (Photo sourced out from www.filamnation.com)
Experts are saying that in order for the current economic policy to have an impact on the poor, economic growth should at least post a record of 7.5% in a continuing basis for more than a decade like that of our neighboring countries.  China and Vietnam are the best example.

But it’s not the case for the country.  Its growth is erratic.  Furthermore, growth is concentrated in the service sector, government or public spending and consumer increase purchases made alive by OFW remittances which has reached more than $20 Billion!  Agriculture roughly reaches more than 2% which is just the population growth equivalent.  If only, growth in this sector could the country’s average, or let say, growth is inclusive, the impact would really be great.  Because of the slow growth in Agriculture, production isn’t that much thus, food is quite high in the country compared to other ASEAN countries like Thailand who’s Agriculture has known to have been in full swing in the 90’s and has continued since then.

In a broader perspective, aside from individual biases, beliefs, and treatment towards gainful living and occupation, local governance has something to do also with economic development.  Economic planning and implementation is top to bottom.  And even with such set-up, still, many of the good programs that the national government intends to implement end up a failure once it reach the community level units after sometime due to lack of sustainability.  There simply is no meeting of great minds from the national down to the local government particularly at the barangay level.  It is not surprising because majority of the leadership at the barangay level lack the necessary leadership and transformational management skills and capabilities that will encourage popular sustainable public support that will steer economic development in their respective areas.

Although many local government units at the municipal level are bent on training barangay chief executives, as observed and experienced in some quite a number of meetings, level of commitment is too weak.  This is very evident particularly in the implementation of priority programs like for instance on the protection of women and children, basic clean and green projects, and livelihoods programs.  For instance swine raising and pig dispersal as a livelihood program most commonly end up to nothingness.  The same with credit facility being offered to start a cooperative.

This could be attributed to lack or very low level of accountability on these elected officials and man forms of dependence on their municipal leaders up to the national level and vice versa .  As one municipal employee once quoted, “ang hirap-hirap namang pasunurin ng mga kapitan, kapag may pamiting ka, hindi lahat nakiki-cooperate.”  It is not surprising, because why are they into these positions in the first place?  There could still be many whose intentions are pure but their incapacity have put them at a loss.  Some on the other hand are just after the position as a source of livelihood, additional source of income for others and connection to further their business interests.  Failon Ngayon, of ABS-CBN Channel 2 has validated this assumption continuously through a series of segments tackling our leaders inefficiency.

At the outset, aside from the national government reviewing its economic policies to make it more effective, local government should also be doing the best thing they could do to improve the living condition of their people.  Individual citizens too must work hard particularly those who already have the means to move out of poverty.  The rich and the middle class however, should extend their hands to their lowly brethren.  They must help invest in their education and in agriculture even when little returns or no returns at all are expected instead of getting drowned in materialism, craze and fads which characterize many of the middle class and rich urban dwellers.

In this time, that our country is being bullied by rich and powerful countries just because we are poor and weak, the challenge and need to get out of poverty, and be wealthy is timely.  Its only when every citizens of our country progress and become financially independent that our country becomes economically and militarily strong because we already have the money and resources.  But until majority of our people are poor so our country is.

Getting out of poverty is not only a challenge for everybody who is poor. Achieving good governance by learning to have better choices among decent. righteous and God-loving political candidates.  Most importantly the topmost social, moral and spiritual responsibility of the bourgeois and elite groups is invest their money wisely and to help others get out of poverty.

Indeed for economic development to occur, active social involvement of every body in achieving good governance is important for only good governance could level the playing field.

(Apart from working in the government as an educator.  The writer has been active in the social movement working for social transformation as a former member of Alyansa ng mga Kristiyanong Mag-aaral.  He holds a Bachelor and MA in Educational Management (CAR) at the Philippine Normal University)

You may also like the following under Politics and Good Governance:

The Philippines, Our Only Home 
Tired of Corruption? We Can Do Something About It 

To all who already have a source of income on a regular basis, you may like the articles under Financial Literacy or Personal Finance
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