CIELITO F. HABITO
NO FREE LUNCH: The problem with shotguns
June 19, 2020
After three months of immobilizing the economy to flatten the COVID-19 curve, we have nothing to show for it but a battered economy and a pandemic curve that's anything but flat.
Perhaps thinking that lockdown was enough, crucial testing and tracing received less attention than our more successful neighbors gave.
A reader described it as a shotgun solution that harmed too many people, when we could have used more focused rifle approaches like other countries used with far better results, and without choking their economies the way we did.
The problem with shotgun solutions is that they make governments complacent and lazy, as it's far easier than figuring out and pursuing creative and effective rifle-focused cures.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130933/the-problem-with-shotguns
EDILBERTO C. DE JESUS
[ANALYSIS] Balancing education risks during this pandemic
June 18, 2020
During the period of a pandemic, unhampered by vaccine, the resumption of normal classes exposes the school community to the risk of infection. Experts do not expect a vaccine to be widely available before 18 to 24 months. We need, therefore, to weigh the potential risks of a vaccine-less school reopening against the certain harm that will follow from a lengthy school lockdown.
Read more: https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/264150-analysis-balancing-education-risks-coronavirus
NO FREE LUNCH: Burdensome government
June 16, 2020
It's hard not to conclude that the lack of definitive progress in the national fight against the pandemic traces mostly to government ineptness. We can't pin the blame on people for lacking the discipline of physical distancing, when top enforcers of that discipline are seen to defy it. It's also impossible to enforce such distancing in crowded poor settlements where high population densities preclude it - unless we provide refugee centers, as when natural calamities call for it. Why not now?
The numbers are already out showing how the tradeoff between the lockdowns and people's economic welfare has hit hard on our economy, and more importantly, on ordinary Filipinos' lives. It's an outrage that we hardly have anything to show for incurring this tremendous cost, by way of significant progress in containing the virus.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130840/burdensome-government
NO FREE LUNCH: A digital new normal
June 12, 2020
As constantly pointed out by government economic managers, the Philippines entered the COVID-19 crisis in a position of relative economic strength. But there's one crucial matter in which we came in falling short: our digital connectivity. This has impacted on our ability to respond to and manage the pandemic, and will affect how we will come out of it and rise from the economic decline that the virus brought upon us.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130714/a-digital-new-normal
NO FREE LUNCH: Boosting our farm co-ops
June 09, 2020
The biggest challenge in Philippine agriculture could well be the highly fragmented structure of our farms. Recently, I wrote of how nearly 9 out of 10 farms are under 3 hectares, and those less than a hectare account for the majority (57 percent). The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted 5.56 million farmholdings spanning 7.19 million hectares, averaging a mere 1.29 hectares each.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130603/boosting-our-farm-co-ops
NO FREE LUNCH: Revisiting our debt penalty
June 05, 2020
Did you know that 15 years ago, about 9 out of every 10 pesos of revenues received by the Philippine national government just went to its debt payments?
At that time, I likened our government to a wageworker whose friendly neighborhood moneylender comes on payday to take away 9 out of every 10 pesos in his pay envelope.
Fast forward to 2020, and that "debt penalty" is no longer a prominent concern for our fiscal managers. Government is in fact proposing to lose money by lowering corporate income tax rates from 30 to 25 percent immediately, in the hope that this would help stimulate business recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic-never mind that this would mean losing an estimated P42 billion immediately, and P625 billion over the next three years. Why this seeming bravado?
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130472/revisiting-our-debt-penalty
NO FREE LUNCH: Tracking poverty
June 02, 2020
Who should get the government's "ayuda" cash grants and who need not? The need to target assistance for households severely affected by the economic standstill during the COVID-19 crisis highlights the importance of having local governments possess a good information base on their residents' state of well-being. But its importance goes well beyond unusual times like this. An accurate socio-economic profile of a barangay, municipality, or city is the essential starting point for local development planning. To be of meaningful consequence, the development plan must address all the important dimensions of individual and family well-being. Poverty, after all, is not just about income, but also about deprivation in the human, social, environmental, political, cultural, and spiritual needs of a person. So how do we keep track of all these?
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130389/tracking-poverty
NO FREE LUNCH: Small farms, large farms
May 29, 2020
Of all food consumed worldwide, 70 percent comes from small family farmers, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
In the Philippines, 88 percent of all farm holdings are under 3 hectares, with those under one hectare comprising the bulk (57 percent), based on the last Agricultural Census in 2012.
What's remarkable is that our average farm size has shrunk from 2.84 hectares in 1980 to less than half of that (1.29 hectares) by 2012, as the number of farms jumped by 62.6 percent from 3.42 to 5.56 million.
Clearly, partitioning of farms among offspring as they are passed on to the next generation is leading to increased farm fragmentation through time.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130246/small-farms-large-farms
[OPINION] Good policies, bad execution, worse timing
May 27, 2020
We economists could use some of the same philosophical grounding of medical practitioners: "First, do no harm." We often justify our policy interventions to respond to "market failures" which include those that weaken competition and hamper collective action. But there is also such a thing as "government failure," and Harvard economist Dani Rodrik once quipped that just because there's a market failure, it doesn't necessarily follow that we need to compound it with a government failure.
As experts who try to safeguard the economic health of countries, we economists have to make sure we don't end up creating even more distortions through failed government policies. This is how I see the conundrum faced by the Duterte administration's economic team (or more precisely, what's left of it) and its continued dalliance with TRAIN 2.
Read more: https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/261979-opinion-good-policies-bad-execution-worse-timing-coro
NO FREE LUNCH: Where do college grads go?
May 26, 2020
Our high school graduates appear to be making the wrong choices on their college courses, as they pursue degrees that do not lead to high-paying jobs - and yet earnings are their expressed primary motivation for getting further education or training. This contradiction is among the findings of the latest Graduate Tracer Survey, the fourth done in the Philippines on record. Covering college graduates who completed their studies within 2009 to 2011, the results are reported in a paper by Melba Tutor, Aniceto Orbeta Jr., and James Matthew Miraflor released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies last December.
The study further affirms the widely observed jobs-education mismatch in our labor market, usually examined from the point of view of employers and higher education institutions, this time from the perspective of the learners. This perspective is important, the authors argue, because it is the student who chooses the school, course program, and occupation s/he pursues, and the one who experiences the consequences of these choices. More than her/his school, it is s/he who can judge the adequacy and appropriateness of training received based on actual employment experience. And more than the employer, it is s/he who knows her/his level of job satisfaction, and whether expectations motivating their studies have indeed been met.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/130160/where-do-college-grads-go