Commentary: Strong peso and Filipinos’ quality of life
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (13 April) -- The peso hit a six-year record high of P47.95 to a dollar on Tuesday and remained at the P47 territory Thursday.
The stronger peso is definitely one proof of the economic gains of the Administration.
Despite however, the strengthening of the peso against the dollar, Filipinos still think their lives have not improved in the past three years as bared in the latest survey taken by Pulse Asia Inc. early this month where 54 percent of 1,800 respondents, 18 years old and older said, they felt they were worse off now than they were three years ago. The survey results were released a day after the peso, strengthened further due to a spike in remittances from overseas workers during the Lenten season.
More remittances have buoyed the peso for years, but the strong currency is not the main factor behind the country’s economic indicators. The economy is growing even if President Arroyo’s detractors deny it. But the rate is not enough to meet the demands of a booming population and allow the benefits to be felt by the masses. It is the sentiment of the majority, left out of the benefits of economic growth that is reflected in every survey on the quality of life.
The Administration has taken this as a challenge and has set ambitious economic goals for the next three years with the creation of “super regions” under the “789” roadmap of the President “ so that the poor can feel the trickle down effect of a robust economy.”
The strengthening of the peso will help prop up the implementation of the roadmap. It will result to government’s better social services like health, education and infrastructure development for the Filipino people and lower fiscal debt.
The Department of Finance (DOF) said that every unit appreciation of the peso cuts the national government’s budget deficit byP5.4 billion and reduces the national government’s outstanding debt by P33.1 billion and in turn saves government P4.2 billion in debt servicing.
Moreover, a strong peso makes imported goods cheaper, encouraging companies to increase their importation. This subsequently allows the Bureau of Customs (BOC), a major contributor to the government’s revenue collection, to rack up bigger import duties.
The government aims at trimming the budget gap to P63 billion or 0.99% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this year from an eight-year low of P64.8 billion or 1% of GDP in 2005.
The Administration may have the political will to attain the development goals but this should be matched by the support and cooperation of the entire citizenry. After all, nation building is a task of both the government and the governed. This done, only then could we Filipinos including those in the Administration will finally see pleasant changes in survey results. (PIA La Union) [top]