July 17, 2012
ECONOMIC GROWTH SHOULD BE MAIN GOAL
Government leaders should sit down, set the goals for the proposed constitutional reform, and let the debate run its course, said Senator Edgardo J. Angara in an interview earlier today.
"But the proposed constitutional and political change should aim for economic prosperity and development," he stressed, adding that the objective is not merely to convert from one form of government to another, but to find ways of boosting the economy and improving the investment climate in order to generate more domestic and foreign business.
"I am not suggesting that we change from presidential to parliamentary. There are several variations of the Presidential-Republican form of government, as exemplified by newly industrialized Korea and fast growing Indonesia," he said.
However, he added that if the overall political structure is flawed, growth and development will be negatively affected.
Angara pointed out that the Philippines' weak competitiveness index has stunted economic growth. The Philippines' foreign direct investment over the past decade has been higher only than neighbors Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
In 2010, the Philippines received a total of US$1.7 billion in foreign direct investments. In contrast, the country's peers in Southeast Asia drew much more: Thailand got US$6.3 billion, Vietnam US$8 billion and Indonesia US$13.3 billion. Singapore received the highest FDI inflow with US$38.6 billion.
Angara, vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said that maintaining a stable regulatory environment needed to attract investments may also be accomplished at the administrative level.
"I believe we can achieve some of these developmental goals through administrative, non-political reform. We have a very capable managerial and professional class," said the veteran legislator, "But we cannot ignore that the root cause of our laggard growth and unrealized economic potential remains our weak political system."
Angara reiterated the need for a stronger political party system to de-centralize the authority of the national government and empower local government units.
"Why do we not have an established political party system? Our government is too centralized. Projects in the provinces must be approved at the national level--road works in a small town still need the approval of the DPWH in Manila. Because of this, politicians flock to those in power. Such highly centralized, bureaucratic system has slowed down our growth," he stressed.
The senator allayed fears that the proposed amendments to the Constitution's economic provisions would extend the term limits of incumbent politicians, since the President himself has has not shown any interest in extending his stay in power.
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