Press Release
May 26, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today blamed the misallocation and misuse of the limited resources of the nation for its slow economic growth.

Pimentel decried that huge sums of public funds were diverted to give President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo an artificial victory in the 2004 elections and to buy the loyalty of politicians and save her from impeachment last year.

At the Senate, we are grappling with the problem of what we see as a misallocation of the meager resources of the nation, the minority leader said at the forum entitled In Search for Reforms for Long-Term Growth and Prosperity sponsored by the Business World and Action for Economic Reforms at the Discovery Suites, Ortigas, Pasig City.

While statistics claimed that the countrys gross domestic product grew by 6 percent in 2004, Pimentel said that the GDP growth slipped to a disappointing 5.1 percent in 2005.

He said the National Statistics Coordination Board sunk a deeper doubt into the numbers by noting the wide statistical discrepancy in computing the GDP rate. Thus, the dissenting views of the NSCB suggests that the growth was even lower.

Pimentel said the Senate is doing its part to eliminate wasteful and uneconomical spending by cutting off the huge allocations for patently partisan activities such as the P5 billion Kilos Asenso and the P3.69 billion Kalayaan Barangay program under the 2006 national budget.

He said the unwise use of the nations resources, aggravated by graft and corruption, has put the ordinary Filipinos at a great disadvantage in terms of uplifting their economic and social conditions.

Pimentel cited the troubling report from the Swiss-based International Institute of Management Development (IIMD) as published in the 2006 World Competitiveness Yearbook, that out of 61 countries surveyed, the Philippines was ranked last in basic infrastructure, 58th in scientific infrastructure, 57th in education, 53rd in health environment and 37th in technological infrastructure.

According to the IIMD report, the Philippines was at the lowest rung in pupil-to-teacher ratio for secondary education; second to the last in total health expenditure and second to the last in total expenditure on research and development as a proportion to the GDP.

Without these crucial infrastructures, without fundamental education, without a healthy environment, no nation can claim development, Pimentel said.

Whether or not the GDP growth rate last year was accurate, Pimentel said the economic growth was unsustainable because it was not investment-led but consumption-induced, thanks to the heavy remittances of overseas Filipino workers.

Pimentel noted that shopping malls have on the main benefited from this phenomenon.

Although malls are not bad in themselves, Pimentel said had the moneys in the hands of the people been funneled into the establishment of factories, then, more people could be employed, more mouths could be fed, more houses could be constructed to shelter people with more stability.

Today, we continue to see people trooping to the malls, it is a good thing. At least to some of our people, they have money to go to the malls, stroll in its cool ambiance and shop, he said. Yet deep down in my mind, I fear that the people taking in the sights at the malls and buying this and that item is not the thing that will propel the country out of the mire of poverty.

Pimentel stressed that long-term growth needs a high rate of savings of the people which the Philippines does not have. He also underscored the need to make industries more competitive, and lessen, if not, eradicate corruption and make the country more politically stable.

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