Regina Bengco of The Malaya reports:
Prof. Benjamin Diokno of the UP School of Economics, Prof. Leonor Briones of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, and FDC president Ana Maria Nemenzo were the presenters in the UP Forum "Gloria’s Economy: More Than Meets the Eye," which was held in anticipation of Arroyo’s seventh State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Diokno was the budget secretary and Briones the national treasurer of President Joseph Estrada.
Diokno, in his presentation on "The Real State of the Nation," said the real per capita growth in the past six years is "not enough to make a significant difference in the lives of most Filipinos."
Just a reality check to keep in mind when La Gloria addresses the nation tomorrow. Wish there were a webcast. Somebody please tape it and upload to YouTube!
Some of the points Diokno addresses in the forum:
1. The Arroyo administration "has consistently failed to meet its own gross domestic product growth target, except in 2004 and that further reforms are 'highly unlikely' because of what he said was her government’s weakness."
2. The "misery index" (inflation rate plus unemployment rate) has progressively increased in recent years.
3. "Filipinos are paying more taxes but most of these are being spent by government on debt service while it is spending less for education and basic health care."
4. "The Arroyo administration incurred the highest budget deficits in recent history, as measured in terms of national government deficit, public sector borrowing requirements and consolidated public sector deficit."
5. "Debt servicing has become the government’s top priority, with interest payments at 26.8 percent of government spending from 2001-2004, and rising to 31 percent lately, compared to 19.5 percent during the Estrada administration and 20.7 percent in the Ramos administration."
6. "Interest payments as percentage of GDP rose to 4.8 percent in 2001 and peaked at 5.5 percent in 2006. He said the amount needed to service the government’s debt, both interest and principal, in 2006 is 'almost equal' to the P785.2 billion in taxes that it collected from January to November."
7. "Social services in 2001-2004 dropped to 29.8 percent, as compared to 32.2 percent in the Estrada administration and 28 percent during the Ramos administration."
8. "Arroyo neglected education and basic health care, spending P5,467 per pupil in 2001-2004 (based on 2000 prices), as compared to Estrada’s P5,830. He said public expenditure on education in the Philippines is only slightly better than Indonesia’s."
9. "High school dropout rate peaked at 15.81 percent and at 10.57 percent for elementary in school year 2005-2006 and the completion rate is dropping. He said Indonesia has outpaced the Philippines in terms of quality high school education."
10. "More kids are dying young, at a mortality rate of 34 percent for those under 5 years old and 26 percent for infants."
Diokno asks, "What profit would it be to balance the budget if you are killing kids and neglecting education and infrastructure?"
The UP School of Economics is probably the second most conservative college in UP (after CBA). Again, very strong language from the centre. When they ring the alarm bell, something really wrong must be happening.