Economics Politics

Fair Process and the Myth of Inclusive Growth

A friend recently passed an Industry article to me that quotes the Fraser Institute in stating in a rather succinct statement:

“And the places you should avoid at all costs are Indonesia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Guatemala, Philippines, and Greece, concludes the survey.”
In a December 31, 2012 article by the Inquirer, the Mining Industry has estimated a Two Billion Dollar loss in mining investments for the Philippines. Beyond the obvious numbers we have to ask why industry investors would mention the Philippines as “one of the places you should avoid at all costs”? As a country that seems to be poised as the next emerging tiger of Asia, it is funny to note industry reports that signal a stink that drives them away.

The answers sometimes lie in the way we treat big business and foreign investment. Ironically these are the same people that we tend to court for the much needed capital infusion for economic development. Some of the more obvious reasons, which make it difficult for business are: Restrictive and Protective ownership policies that perpetuate the control of the ruling class, Extreme levels of activism against development and a general sense of apathy from government. While the administration touts “Inclusive Growth”, many especially the poor continue to get left out. The administration continues to fail in providing an atmosphere of fairness for all.
The argument takes us all the way to Sabah that now serves as a current and highest example of apathy. Wrong or right, the Sultan and his followers are Filipino citizens who now face the perils of Malaysia’s force. The recent reported conflict that ended in casualties (most of which from the Philippine side) is a foretaste to massacre, if it already isn’t. To do nothing is to consent to it!

The state has a responsibility to protect the interest and the lives of its citizenry and to ensure that a “fair-process” is observed. I firmly believe that the Sultan is only pressing for what he believes is his right and interest. While we might be able prove him wrong, it is the responsibility of our state to protect Filipino lives abroad and to ensure that her citizens are treated fairly under due process. To make pronouncements that a citizen is “hard-headed” and fighting a “hopeless-cause” makes the citizen indeed hopeless as his country obviously abandoned him. If the state cannot advocate for the lives and safety of its own citizens, what more if it were others?

Fair Process or Procedural Justice is lacking in this country. Decisions and regulations are enforced without the consultation of all parties involved and affected. Industry regulations are repealed at the drop of a hat sometimes using the highest office. Lobbies are usually weighed in favor of those who speak loudest and closest while others are subjected to apathetic delays. There is a general sense of antagonism towards certain industries; the worst victims of which have already invested in this country under a promise of fair-regulation from years ago. It is costly for them to stay; it is costly for them to leave. Nobody advocates for them or at least makes sure that fair-process takes place to protect everyone’s interest. How inclusive can growth be when others are excluded from the benefitting fold? If it’s not justice for all, then I’m afraid there is no justice at all!
The very government that we rely upon in upholding transparency, good-governance and fair play cannot provide an atmosphere of certainty. Therefore it cannot deliver the promise it intends to make for foreign investment.

While the economy seems to rally upwards, the richest get even richer while the poor gets poorer. The heavily taxed middle-class that has little or no charge to government services only progress in small financial increments where they are. Meanwhile there are no new high quality jobs being created. The promise of Inclusive Growth remains to be an elusive Myth to be sold; but nobody seems to be buying it. Perhaps you need to be an extremely wealthy Filipino to afford it.