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Guarded look at the future

Finally, after three long months, the 2022 national and local elections are, except for the official proclamation of winners, over and done with.

What a relief!

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By this time, many of us may already have an idea on who would be the country’s next president, vice president and senators.

For all the faults of the recent political exercise, both actual and perceived, there is much to be thankful for.

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Until a better system of determining the people’s will is discovered or created, elections remain the most effective means of choosing the men and women who will run the government.

To date, no country has been blessed with what political theorists consider the best form of government: a dictatorship with an angel on the throne.

In 51 days, Malacañang will have a new tenant who shall, for the next six years, barring unforeseen circumstances, contend with, among others, the country’s P12.6-trillion national debt and some 2.87 million unemployed Filipinos, and which numbers could go higher in the coming days.

Hopefully, the feared resurgence of COVID-19 due to the widespread disregard of health protocols to prevent its spread does not happen, otherwise the existing economic and social problems may worsen.

Like the rest of the public, the business community is awaiting with bated breath the names of possible new Cabinet members. Their credentials (or lack of it) would give an inkling on how the new administration intends to live up to its campaign promises.

A similar wait-and-see attitude may be expected from foreign investors, especially those with existing partnership or joint venture agreements with local companies.

Any plans to expand their investments in the Philippines have to be put on hold until they get a picture, even in broad strokes only, of the new political dispensation’s outlook on foreign investments.

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The international credit institutions that have earlier extended multibillion-peso loans to the Philippines to help it meet the challenges of the pandemic would be watching on the sidelines also to see if, at all, it is worth lending more money to in case it asks for additional funds.

Considering past experiences, it is expected that political considerations would be a major factor in those appointments. The concept of utang na loob (debt of gratitude) remains an integral part of Filipino culture.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that trait unless it is practiced to the extreme or at the expense of the public welfare.

In a way, political experience is an asset for Cabinet members whose offices have a direct impact on the lives of majority of the people and know how to gauge the public pulse.

Note that policies or concepts that appear to work well on paper may not automatically have the same results when applied to the situation on the ground.

There had been several instances in the past when “arm chair generals” in the Cabinet implemented policies that were copied from business case studies or from the experience of developed countries without first checking their applicability to local conditions.

By the time they agreed to withdraw or modify those policies (which required them to grudgingly swallow their pride), the harm had been done to the public and millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money had been needlessly spent.

After the heat of the elections dies down, at least on the part of the voters, but not for the candidates who lost or claim they were cheated (depending on their level of maturity), it is likely that majority of Filipinos would keep their fingers crossed that the new administration would bring about the conditions that would make their lives better than what they have now. Hope springs eternal.

Incidentally, there is an urban legend that says that the business community’s sentiments about an incoming president may be gauged from the way the stock market reacts after an election.

An uptick in stock buying may be interpreted as an expression of confidence in the coming leadership, while a massive unloading of stocks is a manifestation of uncertainty about the future. INQ

For comments, please send your email to [email protected]

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TAGS: Business, Elections, Future
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