IBON News | 25 March 2015 | Malacanang has been emphasizing so-called economic successes in its effort to counter growing public criticism
Reacting to Pres. Aquino’s speech on the country’s economic achievements despite negative news reports, research group IBON said that Philippine development performance still compares poorly with its neighbors in the region. This is despite having the fastest economic growth in Southeast Asia and record foreign direct investment (FDI).
Recent trends in unemployment, poverty reduction and human development index (or HDI, a composite of health, education and income indicators) show that the country’s performance is not as exceptional as with other Asean countries. For instance, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam have been able to reduce their poverty rates more than the Philippines, which is lagging seventh in terms of improvement in HDI.
Pres. Aquino in his speech before foreign investors in Makati City listed the “impressive growth and all-time high FDI” as among successes under his administration. Research group IBON has earlier pointed out that overall economic growth has been slowing (to 6.1% in 2014 from 7.2% in 2013) despite increasing FDI since the start of 2014. It also debunked the President’s claim of a soaring economy, noting how the slowdown in growth reflected the artificial drivers of the relatively rapid growth in the last two years (i.e. real estate and construction).
The group also noted that the slowdown is happening in the absence of any major economic shock, unlike the trend of past administrations which were marked by external economic shocks towards the end of their terms (the 1991 global recession under Pres. Corazon Aquino, the 1997 Asian financial crisis under Ramos, and the 2008 global financial turmoil under Arroyo). This indicates that the slowdown is not external but in the nature of the growth sources itself. Despite growing rapidly for a period, the growth sources could not build momentum for the economy and instead are tapering off on their own.
Malacanang has been emphasizing so-called economic successes in its effort to counter growing public criticism over the Mamasapano fiasco, the controversy over the pork barrel and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), among others. However, IBON said that highlighting these achievements despite difficult social realities will not arrest but could add to the public unrest further. (end)