One time I was having a lesson with one of my Japanese students and during our discussion he was complaining about corruption in his country. The whole time I was thinking, “If he thinks they’re corrupt, what does that make us?”
I’m sharing this anecdote because I know of Filipinos who believe that if corruption is gone or significantly reduced then — Poof! The Philippines will no longer be poor and everyone will live happily ever after.
Let’s say corruption diminishes dramatically. Will our taxes be able to create jobs for most poor people? If not, then it’s not public funds which are responsible for job creation but the government’s active role in drawing investment to the country. Yes, this is currently taking place, but why only now?
The Philippines’ labor cost has been lower ever since the peso was devalued to 11 per dollar in 1983, and was almost as low as 50 to the dollar in 2000. Shouldn’t that have informed presidents on what course to take in the Philippines ever since?
Yes, President NoyNoy Aquino is also crusading against corruption which I’m sure helps. But 30 years of a lower labor cost, more than a hundred years of English education and only under his administration do we have investment grade status? If the Philippine government had started to promote investment in the secondary and tertiary sectors 30 years ago, that would have begun the process of poverty reduction — not simply eliminating corruption.
That would have also financed much needed infrastructure. I would be happy when taxes are being deducted from my salary if I didn’t encounter so many inconveniences from the inadequate infrastructure in the country. So when a country is still “developing,” I expect my taxes to be directed primarily towards this end. I am still waiting for the government’s plan to develop the countryside.
As far as education and healthcare go, I believe that it’s not so much the budget allotted for these sectors which is important, but the quality of the program. I will discuss these in future posts.
Photo Credit: Jlundqvi
Lastly, government expenditure should be allocated for quality waste management systems. If this is actualized in the Philippines, I wouldn’t have any complaints anymore.
But until then, there is still much to be done before we can achieve the perfect state.