Friday, February 13, 2009

Phil Star: Profligate leadership by example

The Philippine Star's editorial today is worth reading... and sharing. Below is a copy. For the source, click here.

Profligate leadership by example

While other countries have slipped into recession, President Arroyo appears determined to show to the world how healthy the Philippine economy is: by traipsing around the globe. Her latest eight-day jaunt across Europe, the Middle East and North America cost taxpayers a whopping P123 million — and that’s the amount that MalacaƱang was willing to acknowledge.

What did Filipino taxpayers get in return? Few people remember exactly why the President went to Davos, Switzerland, or to Italy. If she went to the World Economic Forum to brag about the Philippine example, the international community seemed unimpressed.

MalacaƱang cited benefits from the entire trip amounting to an even more whopping $2 billion. Where did that fantastic figure come from? Palace officials said the President received pledges of aid from Saudi Arabia totaling $500 million and, from Bahrain, an investment commitment of $350 million for a hotel project in Makati City. In the United States, where her quest for a coveted photograph with new President Barack Obama ended in humiliation, there is a possibility that the Philippines can export $1.2 billion worth of textiles.

Decisions regarding foreign aid or major investments are not made as quickly as the President decides to fly to Washington for a photo op. The groundwork for decision-making is laid over several months, and the final commitment does not need the presence of the head of the recipient country. The original reason cited for the President’s Middle Eastern trip was to act as job-hunter for overseas Filipino workers. But the region has been hit by the precipitous plunge in world demand for crude oil. Projects and major investments in the Middle East are on hold, foreign workers are being sent home, and it’s doubtful that recovery will be quick.

Textile exports to the US? The Philippine textile industry has been devastated by competition from China and India. And if there is textile to speak of for exports, are Americans buying at this time? As for that unfortunate pilgrimage to Washington, where the President did not merit even a nod or word of acknowledgment from her US counterpart, the embarrassment should be enough to keep her home at least for the duration of the global slump. But then that would be too much to expect of this President. If members of Congress and even police officers are inveterate junketeers at taxpayers’ expense, it is because they are simply following their leader’s example.


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Tikboy said...

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