By Mortz C. Ortigoza
Economic experts said the Philippines lags with South East Asian neighbours Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI).
To cite data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), it says our country in 2014 got U.S$ 6.2 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) only while FDI poured generously at the tune of $ 9.2 billion in Vietnam, $ 22.6 billion in Indonesia, $12.6 Thailand, and S67.5 billion in Singapore in the same year.
Philippines snared more foreign monies in South East Asia
Since we talk here about foreign monies that benefit our people, the Philippine was not a sissy, as many economics expert painted, on snaring FDI.
We are Top 2 after Singapore in the burgeoning South East Asian (SEA) economic alliance in getting foreign monies in and outside the Philippines.
Our country is a recipient of a staggering U.S $34.60 billion if we include the U.S $28.40 billion (World Bank) remittances sent by the millions of overseas foreign workers (OFWs), the ballyhooed economic saving grace of the country, in 2014.
So if Vietnam and Indonesia (second and third after the Philippines in the SEA region that send workers overseas) have U.S$21.20 billon and U.S$ 31.15 billion, respectively if we integrate the data from UNCTAD and the remittances list from the World Bank, the Philippines becomes No. 2 after Singapore by ranking who got the most foreign monies.
Despite being the Top 2, probably the first time you read from a columnist, why we are still poor versus Thailand and Singapore despite the $34.60 billion that entered the country and the 6.7 percent Gross Domestic Product last year – dubbed as one of the fastest economic growth engines in the world?
Pathetic Per Capita Income and 9.1 million unemployed
With a per capita income (PCI) of U.S $2,872.5 (World Bank, 2011-2014) versus Thailand and Singapore’s PCI of $5,977.4 and $ 56,284.6,respectively, we have 6.8 percent unemployment rate or 4, 228,852 unemployed in a labor force of 62, 189,000 according to the Philippine Statistics Office.
But the December 8, 2015 survey of the Social Weather Station said that 9.1 million Filipinos were unemployed.
PCI, by the way, is the mean money income received in the past 12 months computed for every man, woman, and child in a geographic area. It is derived by dividing the total income of all people 15 years old and over in a geographic area by the total population in that area.
This massive number of jobless, aggravated this year by the dropped of the prices of oil in the Middle East, and the runaway population explosion, where ironically the poor bear more children than the moneyed, would aggravate the economic stocks of the poor in the Philippines.
Aggressively Promote Population Control
To arrest the exploding demography, so there would be less poor Filipinos who will compete with the jobs brought by FDI, our growing manufacturing base, the jobs generated because of the remittances of the OFWs, and the business outsourcing firms, the government should aggressively promote population control by giving contraceptives to the people.
But if these dole-outs of condoms, pills, and others will smack head on with the legalities as provided by the Reproductive Health Law, the private sectors through foundations, can play a role on the promotion (just like Trust Condom promoted then on TV as advertisement) or their free distribution.
Let’s emulate Thailand how to reduce our population
Let us compare the Philippines to Thailand that economically dusted off us significantly, say, in terms of PCI where each of them got $5,977.4 a year while each Filipinos had $2,872.5 PCI a year in 2011-2014 World Bank’s records.
Remember in 1975 Thailand and the Philippines had roughly the same population, a high population growth rate, a high fertility rate, and the same number of the population living under poverty line.
But because the Thai government, just like the Marcos Administration in the 1970s, aggressively promote family controls for 35 years after 1975, the following results, according to Dr. Nibhon Debavalya, Thailand’s leading population expert, ensued:
· Thailand was able to radically reduce its population growth rate to 0.6 percent while the Philippines inched down to 2.04 percent in the period 1970-2010.
· During the period 1970-2008, Thailand’s GDP per capita grew by 4.4 percent, while the Philippines’ grew by 1.4 percent.
· By 2008, Thailand’s total GDP was $273 billion while the Philippines’ was $167 billion. (Note: In 2014, Thailand and Philippines’ GDP were $437, 344,000,000 and $ 278,260, 000,000 , respectively (World Bank)
· By 2010, there were 93.6 million Filipinos, or over 20 million more than the 68.1 million Thais. This gap of 25.5 million is the demographic advantage enjoyed by Thailand – one that has made a vast difference in the economic performance and the quality of life of the people in the two countries.
· By 2008, owing partly to its demographic performance, Thailand’s GDP per capita was $4,043 or more than twice that of the Philippines, which stood at $1,847.
· By 2010, only 9.6 percent of Thais lived under the national poverty line while 26.4 percent of Filipinos did.
How can we uplift the standard of living of the Filipinos
If we quantify these data between Thailand, that encourages 100 percent foreign investment, and the Philippines, that encourages 40 percent foreign ownership as mandated by her Constitution, then it is no longer debatable that the Thais have better standard of living by just citing both countries’ PCI.
So how can we rev up our lethargic share of the PCI?
My answer: Fight population explosion, change the foreign economic equity on the corporate ownership from 40 percent to 100 percent just like what Vietnam and Singapore had done, diversify OFWs’ deployment overseas as the dropped of the prices of oil in many states become an economic menace, and buttress the growth of our local industries like manufacturing and business outsourcing like call centres and medical transcriptionists.
On how to fight population explosion, here’s Debavalya.
“A final decisive factor was the national government’s durable commitment to a comprehensive program that systematically provided information and contraceptives, especially to the poor and in rural areas”.
He said that while non government organizations, such as Meechai’s Population and Community Development Association, were important in educating rural Thais on the different methods of family planning, it was the government that provided access to contraceptives in the grassroots.
Remember, our country despite our $34.60 billion foreign monies took in 2014 or the crap of being Economic Top 2 on that year would be nothing if we do not arrest our runaway population explosion – the real culprit why we have massive unemployment rate and limping poverty as a result of the policies implemented by this misdirected and religion-scared government.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)