Stories tagged

CCT debt trap? Future
of pro-poor deal a poser

IT HAS been described as an “investment in the next generation,” with its supposed results of millions of healthier, better educated Filipinos not expected to be realized anytime soon. But the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is also an investment that is drawing a substantial chunk of its capital from foreign loans, a fact that has many observers raising red flags.

“The poor of the future will be the ones who will carry the burden of paying off this debt,” says Freedom from Debt Coalition Executive Director Milo Tanchuling, who believes it would be better if the CCT relied on locally sourced funds. That the government is also vague about alternative funding prospects for the program has only made those like Tanchuling uneasy – and wondering if it’s an initiative that is sustainable.

Access to information under P-Noy

Some open spaces,
many closed corners

DRIFT and confusion. Some pockets of transparency but most everywhere, a predilection for opaqueness and more barriers to access in place. This is the access to information regime that lingers in the Philippines nearly a year after Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III came to power on a “Social Contract with the Filipino People,” which he said would be defined by transparency, accountability, and good governance.

But a seven-month PCIJ audit of how 27 national agencies deal with access to information requests shows spotty proof of Aquino’s recipe for good governance in the processes and practices of these agencies. While a few stand out as exemplars of transparency, the majority remain stuck in the old ways of opaque government, with some even sliding back into darker corners.

P-Noy’s poverty challenge

Bold blows vs corruption,
cautious steps vs poverty

BENIGNO Simeon ‘Noynoy’ C. Aquino III became the Philippines’ 15th president on June 30, 2010 or exactly 70 days ago, triggering a contagion of hopefulness among Filipinos. He wooed and won votes with a slogan that was simple, yet catchy: ”Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Without corruption, there’d be no poverty.

The second Aquino presidency has spread a virus of hope that finds sole parallel in the tide of goodwill that Filipinos bestowed on his late mother and democracy icon Corazon ‘Cory’ C. Aquino after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.

Indeed, Aquino’s campaign equation of “no corruption = no poverty” has animated Filipinos so much that the expectations are great that he will deliver results soon.

P-Noy’s Poverty Challenge

Rx for health: Not just money
or dole-outs but real reforms

IN HIS message that accompanies the proposed government budget for next year, President Benigno C. Aquino III notes that the allocation for health is 13.6 percent higher than 2010’s P29.3 billion (According to the 2010 General Appropriations Act though, only P28.7 billion was allocated to the Health Department).

Yet if one were to compare health’s share of the budget for this year and what the corresponding figure could be in the next, the difference isn’t much.

For 2010, the health allocation is 1.8 percent of the P1.54-trillion national purse. For 2011, the Aquino administration is proposing P32.62 billion for health –as indicated in the proposed National Expenditure Program — which is 1.9 percent of the P1.64-trillion national budget. The increase in terms of share in the total budget then would amount to just a tenth of a percentage point.

P-Noy’s poverty challenge

RP far behind goals to lift
plight of children, mothers

IT WILL be his first official trip overseas as the country’s chief executive, but President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has little reason to look forward to his upcoming visit to the United States.

On September 20, Aquino will be at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he is expected to present just how far the Philippines has achieved progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, in large measure because of the shortcomings of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino is bound to acknowledge before other world leaders that the country is falling short of several of these targets.

In September 2000, the Philippines and 188 other countries signed the Millennium Declaration, and committed themselves to achieving a set of eight goals by 2015. These goals – the MDGs – have since been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress for both rich and poor countries.

The economy

Misplaced government spending worsens woes

IF THIS country were a family, it is unhealthy, lacking in education and employment opportunities, is deep in debt and spends its limited budget on the wrong things.

This is despite the fact that the head of this household called the Philippines is someone whose expertise is economics.

7 in 10 ODA projects fail to deliver touted benefits

AT LEAST seven in 10 projects funded by Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans have failed to deliver their touted benefits and results, according to a six-month study of project documents conducted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Stories about “white elephants” — grand but unfinished or unused public works projects, such as the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in the ’80s to the Telepono sa Barangay program in recent years abound. Yet many more ODA-funded projects disappoint, even after completion and roll-out.


Aid for whom?

THE DUAL nature of overseas development assistance (ODA) loans as both foreign aid and support for businesses in the lending country has taken an interesting, if confusing, turn in the case of loans and guarantees provided by the United Kingdom.

The NEDA lists the United Kingdom as the Philippines’ fourth biggest source of development finance, which comes in the form of guarantees provided by the UK’s Export Credit and Guarantee Department (ECGD).

Bids sans caps, tied loans favor foreign contractors

FOR ANTONIO Molano Jr. and other government engineers at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), it felt like being in “Groundhog Day,” the Bill Murray movie about a cynical TV reporter who kept reliving the same day over and over again.

Over a span of four years, Molano and his colleagues at the DPWH bids and awards committee (BAC) held three rounds of bidding for two World Bank-funded road projects in Mindanao and the Visayas.


NEDA in knots

FORMER ECONOMIC planning secretary Felipe Medalla may have spoken in jest during a forum of previous chiefs of the National Economic and Development Agency (NEDA) last September when he said there are two NEDAs.

There is, he said, “NEDA sa Pasig,” which houses the offices of the director general and staff, and which supposedly embodies the technical side of the agency.

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