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Aug 23rd
Home Columns Ike Señeres Poverty and Productivity
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Columns - Ike Señeres
Written by Ike Señeres   
Saturday, 12 June 2010 07:05


No Holds Barred (073) June 12, 2010

By Ike Señeres


Poverty and Productivity


T he new Secretary of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has yet to be named, but I am hoping that President-Elect Noynoy Aquino would name someone who is both technically honest and intellectually honest in reporting the poverty and prosperity figures of the incoming administration.


Technical honesty and intellectual honesty are two different matters, but they both boil down to the same thing, and that is the moral fiber of the agent, in this case the one who prepares the report (the NEDA Secretary), and the principal, in this case the one who receives the report (the President).


For many years now, the NEDA has been reporting very low poverty figures that are far below the perception of many observers as to what the real figures really are. This seems to be true also in the case of the national productivity figures, which do not seem to reflect what many believe to be the real indicators.


After nine years in office, it is not really clear how much reduction of the poverty rate was actually achieved by Gloria. She would of course claim that the economy “improved” during her watch, but are we always going to content ourselves with the qualitative claims of our leaders?


With six years ahead of him, President Noynoy now has the chance of reducing our poverty rate and our productivity rate, but this time around, and hopefully unlike Gloria, he would start by having intellectually correct and technically correct benchmarks that would be measured against his actual performance and delivery at the end of his term.


In my personal and technical opinion, I believe that the data gathering for the national poverty and productivity reports should start at the municipal level, and these should be consolidated at the provincial level before these are summarized at the national level. Any other method other than this would amount to fabrications, and are therefore dishonest.


For planning purposes, I suggest that the government should adopt the word “municipal” as the common term that would refer to both the cities and the towns. Also for planning purposes, I also suggest that the government should disregard the legal fiction that the chartered cities are not part of the provinces where they are actually physically located.


In this new global paradigm where climate change AKA global warming takes the center stage, we should even go beyond the usual artificial political jurisdictions of the provinces, meaning that we should now begin to plan in terms of natural watersheds and biospheres.


Whether we like it or not, we could no longer plan for reductions in the poverty rate and for increases in the productivity rate without taking the stat of the environment into consideration. The same is true in the case of agriculture, because we could no longer plan for good agriculture in a bad or damaged environment.


As an economic indicator, the Gross National Product (GNP) is simply just a measure of national productivity and as such, it should reflect the honest accounting of our real gains and losses, including those that are agricultural and environmental in nature.


Adapting to climate change and global warming is one thing, reducing poverty and increasing productivity is another thing. But not unless the new administration the real relationships between the environment and our economic goals, they could be facing a dual failure in this tandem of interconnected objectives.


The outgoing administration has failed to consolidate their actions in connection with the need to preserve or restore our air, land and water resources. All of the government agencies that are tasked to care for these resources seem to be going into their own separate directions, not realizing perhaps that they are dealing with the same watersheds and biospheres.


J ust a postscript to the visit of Al Gore: We paid millions just to hear a foreigner tell us what we already know. What more do we need to know?


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