Sonny Africa

Sonny Africa is the executive director of IBON Foundation.

Discerning Bongbonomics from the Inaugural Address

July 4, 2022

Imagine if the inaugural address had mentioned – big fiscal stimulus from more ayuda and support to MSMEs to spur aggregate demand, prioritizing social spending over infrastructure and debt service in the 2023 budget, expanding fiscal space with a billionaire wealth tax, higher wages, arresting environmental destruction by corporations, financial regulation, public ownership, protecting and supporting domestic agriculture, and a comprehensive plan for national industrialization.

No Mavericks Among Economic Top Guns

June 15, 2022

The next administration’s economic agenda will be fully presented at the state of the nation address in July. There are hardly any specifics yet. Still, the tidbits already emerging can be interpreted against the incoming economic team members’ individual track record and especially in the context of the long arc of neoliberal thinking that has defined Philippine policymaking over the last half century.

PH isn’t Sri Lanka… yet

May 25, 2022

The Philippines isn’t going the way of Sri Lanka yet in defaulting on its foreign debt payments anytime soon. Which is not to say that there are no lessons to be learned from the first canary to die in the coal mine of growing global debt distress.

Universal Basic Income: To UBI or not to UBI

February 12, 2022

Free or affordable social services, decent jobs and incomes, affordable transport and utilities, and comfortable homes are much better indicators of beating poverty than programmed UBI cash transfers

Duterte giving public utilities to foreign capital

February 3, 2022

Congress recently ratified the bicameral version of the bill amending the Public Service Act and opening up domestic sectors to 100% ownership by foreign capital. This includes telecommunications, shipping, airports, airlines, railways, subways, expressways and tollways. Passing this proposed law will be one-step-forwards-two-steps-backwards for the country.

Debt benefits

January 22, 2022

The national government deficit and debt are historically large amounts and so easy to raise alarms about. But if current borrowing is used productively, this debt burden is actually not necessarily unmanageable.

BBB: Farce multiplier

January 19, 2022

The real question is what balance to strike between universal social protection and infrastructure. The disproportionate attention to urban-centric transport infrastructure of the Build Build Build program is clearly a problem.

Scar-crossed Labors

January 17, 2022

We will likely hear claims of strong economic performance, early recovery, and returning to a path of rapid and inclusive growth. But labor force and poverty figures for 2021 already show how any claims like that will just be bluster or, worse, blind to the daily experience of millions of Filipinos.

2020 Yearender: Economic lessons from Jose Rizal

December 30, 2020

The worst economic collapse in Philippine history and in Southeast Asia is mainly due to the government’s stumbling pandemic response and lackluster economic measures in 2020. If, again, there is more bluster than action in 2021 then real recovery will be much farther away than it should be.