If you’ve noticed my book for the week, it’s about India, which I believe is under appreciated among Filipinos as a country from which we can learn much. The book introduced me to a highly descriptive term, License Raj, and reminded me of a conversation I recently had on the sidelines with a columnist in another paper who also holds a board seat in a government bank.
In the past, businessmen were enthusiastic contributors to political campaigns but since the 1990s, they’ve become the opposite. Businessmen now make themselves scarce during the election season (implying, too, that they don’t vote), either going abroad or simply making themselves unavailable for phone calls and visits.
The reason businessmen can afford to ignore and actually evade the politicians is that they are no longer at the mercy of the politicians they way they used to be. The era of currency controls is long gone; and the old sugar bloc (divided into the faction of planters and millers) is long gone. Instead, the columnist (Alex Magno) told me, politicians are really in a lose-lose situation: elections are getting even more expensive, but there simply isn’t enough money coming in to finance them. So, he says, the real kingpins in politics are those with illegal funds who now play the role the big businessmen used to play:
!. Drug money
2. Gambling Money
3. Quotas on Customs and the BIR
4. The Philippine National Police
But basically, one big accomplishment is that we’ve succesfully eliminated our own License Raj. While generally hostile, Economic History and the Economy of India explains the License Raj in India and how (and why) it’s been dismantled since the 1990s.
Placeholder takes a systematic -and systemic- look at Philippine governance as it’s developed, and where it might be headed. Take a look at Amando Doronila’s analysis of the recent senatorial survey results.
How do you gage the Palace’s reactions (besides the spalsh of cold water the President received because of some idiot staffer’s snafu: see the Malaya and Tribune stories for added color)? The President pleads for the bare minimum: let her finish her term. Her senatorial candidates try to counter the appeal of impeachment. Her pet party backpedals on aggressively going after it’s coalition partners (Kampi was crowing just a week ago).
Big Mango does everyone a service by presenting a criteria for measuring economic performance, giving credit where credit is due, but refusing to swallow the snake oil. Things to watch out, Business Mirror reports, is the slowdown of the US economy and its effect on Filipino exporters. Bunker Chronicles also explains why the stock market isn’t a good measure of economic progress. John Mangun says the stock market needs to be observed further to see if it will revive or not.