Good news, except in many of our media
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-05-13
As news consumers, it’s high time that we Filipinos called to task Philippine media, especially our broadcast media that operate out of franchises that are granted by our elected representatives. Nothing could be more glaring in the misdirected sense of priorities of our media than many recent positive developments that other foreign media wrote about our country - but were hardly trumpeted here by our own media.

In a May 3, 2012 BusinessWeek/Bloomberg news story about the Philippines: “The shift in fortunes is most obvious in the $6 billion in foreign direct investment the country attracted last year - low by Chinese standards but a 15-year high for the Philippines. Powered by demand for electronics made locally by Toshiba, Texas Instruments (TXN), and others, exports in February jumped 14.6 percent, to $4.43 billion, the government announced on April 12. Foreign reserves, just $37.5 billion in 2008, are now at $76 billion.

President Benigno Aquino’s government has made progress getting the Philippines’ fiscal problems under control, with the budget deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product shrinking from 3.7 percent in 2009 to just 1 percent last year, according to Bloomberg Brief economist Tamara Henderson. That puts the Philippines budget deficit at the same level as Germany’s and far better than India’s alarming 7.3 percent.

Investors have taken note of the progress. Ratings companies have upgraded the country’s sovereign debt, and the stock market is just behind Thailand in Asia so far in 2012. The Manila exchange’s benchmark index is up 19.6 percent, versus 12 percent for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Much of the credit for the good feeling should go to Aquino and his efforts to tackle corruption and improve the country’s infrastructure. His administration has worked to make the bidding process for public works more transparent. For instance, the government announces winners immediately, which prevents others from quietly and quickly paying officials to change horses. Last December the government even took to Twitter to get the news out right away that Ayala (AC) had won the bid for a Manila highway project. When Aquino’s administration started in mid-2010, “everything changed,” says Henderson. “This starts to create a virtuous cycle.”

Economists praise a $16 billion program to improve the country’s railroads, airports, and highways as well as programs to provide vaccines and build more elementary and high schools. The Philippines is benefiting from “a popular government that is seen by many as committed to improving governance and reducing poverty,” the World Bank said in a March 19 report.”

In an April 28 Financial Times news report of David Pilling, their Asia editor: “First, the external position has improved dramatically. The Philippines, after years of indebtedness, is a net creditor.

Overseas remittances from the roughly eight million Filipinos working abroad have steadily added to foreign exchange reserves. At nearly US$80 billion, these are higher than the external debt.
Since 2004, remittances have grown from US$7 billion-US$8 billion to US$20 billion, nearly 10 percent of GDP.”

Pilling further wrote “the country is getting its fiscal house in order. The deficit has narrowed from a worrying 5-6 percent a decade ago to a manageable 2 percent.”

He added: “The Aquino government has also taken steps to restore rice self-sufficiency after the country was forced to import a fifth of its needs in 2008.

It has established public-private partnerships to build the roads, railways and power stations that have failed to keep pace with an exploding population.

Progress has been slow, but the legal regime is considered solid. Many economists are predicting a private investment boom, predicated on favourable demographics - half of Filipinos are under 25 - and the healthiest banking system in Southeast Asia.”

In an April 25 Reuters TV report, Investment Guru Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley was featured, saying that investments in BRICs is passé (BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China) and that wise money should focus on TIP - Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines. Goldman Sachs, HSBC Research, and the World Bank echoed similar rosy forecasts for the Philippine economy.

In a February 25, 2012 British Embassy (Manila) report, they cited an HSBC Research as basis for calling us A Star Performer: “A recent report by HSBC (“The World in 2050”) has captured widespread attention in the Philippines by predicting that the country will become the world’s 16th largest economy by the middle of the century: up 27 places from today. The report predicts that strong fundamentals (education levels, strong democracy and low wage costs) and powerful demographics (a young and fast growing population) could make the Philippines the “star performer” among emerging economies, with an average annual growth rate of 7% over the next 40 years.”

Traditionally, it’s in the foreign press where we get very bad marks. They have had this fixation with our Smokey Mountain of garbage and overplayed our insurgents’ capability to disrupt normalcy. Now, they’re suddenly singing a very different tune. Now, they’re predicting what to many of us would have seemed a pipe dream.

Have you ever imagined our country being rated as the next top three economies to invest in? Have you ever imagined our economy becoming the world’s 16th largest? These are not small steps being projected for our country - but gigantic strides.

Don’t our people deserve to know these many wonderful things that are happening in our country and what these positive developments would mean in terms of a better life for all? Shouldn’t our media prioritize the dissemination of these developments in order to help Filipinos make better decisions on how to improve their lives?

Does that senseless brawl that happened last weekend at the airport between controversial media and showbiz personalities deserve all the media coverage it got? Isn’t it amazing how that airport brawl even upstaged the Floyd Mayweather - Manuel Cotto fight?

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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