The "747" in this case meant 7 percent growth for seven successive years to make a dent on poverty and to lay the foundation for industrialization. At this pace of growth, output would double in about 10 years. While a 7 percent yearly expansion would just match the growth rates of our neighbors (in particular, Thailand which has a similar population, natural endowments and level of development of the Philippines a few decades back), at least the Philippines would not fall further behind.
The problem, of course, is that while it is easy to snatch targets from thin air, there must be a doable blueprint to raise the economy by its bootstraps, as it were.
We brushed off the dust from Joe’s plan so we can have some basis for assessing the purported economic successes of the Arroyo administration.
The numbers are not yet in but GDP growth for 2005 would likely be slightly below 5 percent, compared with the original target of 5.1 to 6.3 percent.
For 2006, the target is 5.7 to 6.3 percent against the original 6.3 to 7.3 percent. For 2007, the new target is 6.1 to 6.5 percent against the original 6.5 to 7.5 percent under the Medium-Term Development Program.
So under the best-case scenario, growth could hit 7 percent only starting in 2008. That leaves exactly two-and-a-half years under this purportedly growth-driven administration under a PhD where there would be a fighting chance to achieve respectable growth.
In Baguio yesterday, Gloria was again boasting of the "stupendous" performance of the peso against the dollar, the best, she said, in the world. We’re not knocking off the overseas workers’ contributions, the reason for the peso’s appreciation. But with record remittances of more than $12 billion this year, why is it that growth could do no better than 5 percent?
There is something terribly wrong somewhere. We suspect that the main culprit is the leadership crisis brought about by this lying, cheating and thieving administration. Business has succeeded to some extent in insulating itself from the political uncertainties, explaining the fact that the economy has not, in fact, contracted. But business confidence may snap if the turmoil persists.
We could, however, be wrong. Perhaps there are other deeply rooted structural reasons why the economy could not take off. The point is to take a cold, hard look at what ails the economy.
We cannot, however, undertake this unless we first admit everything is not coming up roses. Deluding ourselves, as Gloria habitually does, will only sink is deeper into the economic hole she refuses to acknowledge.