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Feature: The wind of change from social payback

By Mimi Bern-Edaga

Zamboanga (April 17) -- Any activity that requires change as an output is not an easy task. Many of us welcome change with open arms when it’s offered in a silver platter, but not readily when it requires us to do dirty jobs.

Most likely, we would love to take a refreshing dip in a pool especially this very warm summer, but would not like to lift a finger to clean it. If ever a finger is lifted, it points to somebody who should clean it for us.

This may be true to the economic situation of the country. The Arroyo Administration is accused of failure in uplifting the lives of the Filipino people from the quagmire of hunger and poverty. However, very few care to contribute what they are able to do.

Social Payback

Survey results from different poll bodies seem to substantiate detractors’ claim. Somehow, the stable strength of the peso fueled the government’s efforts to improve the delivery of basic services such as health, education, infrastructure development for the Filipino people, and the lower fiscal debt resulted in the felt improved delivery of social services.

The peso hit a six-year record high of P47.73 to a dollar today. The Department of Finance (DoF) saves the government by P4.2 billion in debt servicing every time the peso appreciates because it enables the peso to cut the national government budget deficit by P5.4 billion and reduces the national government’s outstanding debt by P33.1 billion.

Moreover, a stronger peso makes imported goods cheaper, encouraging many 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.

In Zamboanga City, infrastructure development is evident in the newly inaugurated 2M Zamboanga market-superintendent office which included the treasurer’s office and three stalls near the superintendent’s headquarters.

Last year, various infrastructure projects were undertaken in the main City market worth 15.6 million. It included the reconstruction of building E (P4.9 million), building F (2.9 million), building G (P1.2 million) and row G (5.2 million) and rehabilitation of building D (P1.2 million).

Soon to be inaugurated is the P2 million materials recovery facility at the Magay area, according to Zamboanga City Mayor, Celso Lobregat.

Effect in Trickles

The marginalized sector claims they remain poor and say they did not feel the taste of a growing economy, boom in portfolio investments and even the repayment of debts amounting to $175 million which the government proudly claims, despite the relentless government pursuit for a quality life for every Filipino.

To feel, the impact, the wind of change needs to be wielded high and vigorous.

Vigorous enough, that in the recently conducted 16th Family Forum themed “Unidad de los Agricultores y Prescadores: Seguridad de Comida,” Congressman Erbie A. Fabian encouraged the local officials and candidates to the May electoral polls to support the plight of farmers because they are vital part of the country’s economic engine. He said the role of farmers is important because they are the backbone of the country’s economy.

With the 2M-Zamboanga market superintendent office, farmers are given opportunity to command a better price of their products as interference of middlemen are minimized. Farmers get the chance to discover and exercise their entrepreneurial capability.

The City’s bagsakan center enables them to take a hand in the pricing of their produce for the extra income needed to augment the family’s financial needs.

This in itself spells better income source for rural folks and cheap but fresh farm commodities for urban consumers.

Half empty, half full

The Press Secretary said that while the government never promised instant results from the economic surge, the reality, according to him, "is that we have more jobs today, lower inflation, and lesser debt."

"Our detractors may insist in seeing a cup half empty, but we would rather see it half full and filling up as we move forward in our programs to breach hunger and poverty," he pointed out.

Bunye, however, “acknowledged that there are still lots of things to be done, thus he encouraged everyone to roll-up sleeves; which more and more Filipinos are doing," he said. "We have rising global confidence in the Philippines and we have the tools of excellence to use to our advantage," he added. (PIA-ZC) [top]

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