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Aug 23rd
Home Columns Ike Señeres Progress and Development
Progress and Development PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Ike Señeres
Written by Ike Señeres   
Monday, 24 May 2010 07:54


No Holds Barred (Series 069)

By Ike Señeres


Progress and Development


A merican President Barack Obama won on a platform of change. It was a popular and practical platform for America, because over there, progress and development are no longer issues. The American people still needed change, even if their country is already very much progressive, and is already fully developed.


Presidential front-runner Noynoy Aquino appears to have won here also on a platform of change, albeit more specifically on the angle of removing corruption, supposedly as a means to remove poverty. For lack of a better term, I would call this a rock-bottom approach, because it starts from the bottom line goal of removing poverty, without a clear goal of achieving prosperity for the nation up ahead.


What does removing poverty mean? I hope that the economists under Noynoy would be able to tell the difference between poverty reduction and poverty alleviation, a dichotomy that has escaped the appreciation of past administrations. Poverty reduction means lowering the poverty rate based on clear economic targets. Poverty alleviation means lowering the rate of suffering below the poverty line.


What is the difference between progress and development? It is very important to ask this question, because the dichotomy between the two has apparently also escaped the appreciation of past administrations. Just to give you a clue, progress could happen even without clear economic targets, and even without a development plan. Strictly speaking, progress could even happen even without development.


Here is another clue: poverty reduction is a measure of development. Therefore, it goes without saying that the reduction of poverty should be a specific goal within an objective development plan. Poverty reduction could never happen as an accident, in much the same way that accidental progress could also happen even without an objective development plan. Actually, even poverty alleviation could not happen as an accident.


For some reason, the government could only think in terms of ten-year development plans, this being the function of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). If the government would insist on looking only at the short term, they should at least think in terms of twelve-year development plans, because that would exactly cover the terms of two fixed-term Presidents.


E xcept for perception surveys, there is no practical method of measuring the removal of corruption. The good news is, there are many reliable methods of measuring the reduction of poverty, this being the more-reasonable goal, instead of the removal of poverty. First things first however, the new administration should revisit the definition of the poverty threshold, since the costs of the goods in the “imaginary basket” have already changed.


The science of measuring development is exact, as a matter of fact, the measurements are already defined and prescribed in the medium term (ten year) development plan that the government already has. Other than that, there are other international means of measurement that the government could use, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations.


I am hoping that at the end of the term of the new administration, they will be able to report quantitative gains in actual development achievements, instead of mere qualitative claims in terms of progress alone, such as saying that corruption is already “gone”.


I do not know how long it will take us, but I think that our real long-term goal, way beyond twelve years, perhaps all the way to forty-eight years, is to regain our economic dominance in the ASEAN region as a nation, a position that we used to hold until we went downwards due to the lack of development. Semantically, we could say that we progressed, but definitely, we did not develop quickly enough to catch up with the other economies.


If you have suggestions or complaints addressed to the Senate, send them to me so that I could post these in my other blog, SENERES SA SENADO. This new blog will also contain posts and press releases from all Senators.


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