THE Report of 11 professors from the UP School of Economics was a wake-up call. Many of us knew that was coming but it was easier to fall into a state of denial. Now that the President has admitted that the government is in fiscal crisis, we now have to consider steps needed to raise R83 billion. I am always for proactive planning instead of waiting and reacting until the deeper crisis strikes. As Senator Villar said, this crisis calls for a shared sacrifice on the part of every sector of the population beginning with government officials and the rich. This goes for all of us, too by practicing austerity and frugality in our daily living and emulating some of the examples that PGMA had set no merienda during meetings, lights out after 4 p.m., etc. There is also Secretary Vince Perez EC (Energy Conservation) campaign to reduce oil consumption. I am sure we can think of a dozen things we can do away with without feeling deprived. In fact, we may even feel good about ourselves, knowing that we are helping towards making our republic stronger. Or keeping it away from the threatening clouds.
I recall the White Paper an excellent analysis of the crisis we were in sometime ago and prepared by the same group. It was a useful document for like the present report, it enabled government and other sectors to take stock of needed policy and program measures. As Winnie Monsod says, the report should be regarded as a message of hope rather than of doom. The probability of becoming another "Argentina" could happen two to three years from now but we have time to avert it, she says. I too agree that the suggested measures are do-able. But to implement the envisioned tax collection and to effect good governance (run after tax evaders, smugglers, etc.), government must exercise strong political will. In fact, Senator Mar Roxas wanted greater focus on these governance measures.
As of this writing, nine senators led by Senate President Franklin Drilon had already signed a resolution calling for a 50 percent reduction of their pork barrel. Some party-list representatives had done the same thing. There is however resistance in cutting the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and I can very well understand why. Senator Ralph Recto who also opposes the IRA cut says it takes care of the vital expenses of local governments payments for teachers, barangay health workers, and national government employees of departments which have been devolved. The League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) have signed a resolution expressing their objection. But most agree with pork barrel cuts and added taxes on beer and cigarettes.
This recent "shock and awe" had led to some debate on semantics. "Fiscal" crisis is different from "economic" crisis, according to the three economic managers in the Cabinet who say that we are not really in an economic crisis as we are still able to pay our debts. Nonetheless, given our culture of passivity and lack of a sense of urgency, we need to confront the problem and take some anticipatory strategies.
Now, the search is on for possible alternatives. One such option is promoting the use of alternative and renewable energy to lessen dependence on imported and costly crude oil products. …