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Good News, Bad News

By: Cielito F. Habito, PhD
There is much to be pleased about in our economic performance in recent years, including the one just past. But as my title suggests, there’s as much to be worried about as well. Our situation sums up thus: Yes, we’ve come a long way and done quite well, but sadly still not quite well enough to even just narrow the gap with our neighbors.
By my usual PiTiK test (presyo, trabaho, kita or prices, jobs and incomes), 2016 was all good news. The past year saw relatively stable prices, with a full-year average inflation rate of 1.8 percent, which was only slightly worse than the previous year’s record 1.4 percent. Annual price increases had peaked at 9.3 percent in the last 10 years, and even briefly reached double digits at the height of the world financial crisis in 2008-2009.
Meanwhile, our unemployment rate dipped below 5 percent, the lowest I’ve seen in decades. Just three years before, the figure was above 7 percent, where it has persisted in most of the past 15 years. As for incomes, measured by gross domestic product, our 6.8-percent GDP growth rate eclipsed even that of China, erstwhile the fastest-growing economy in the entire continent.
All this starkly contrasts with our embarrassing history of trailing our comparable Asean neighbors in most key economic indicators, including export earnings and foreign direct investment inflows. We averaged less than $40 billion in annual export revenues in the past decade up to 2010, behind even Vietnam, which had already been averaging around $50 billion. We attracted a pathetic $1 billion in annual average FDI inflows in the same period, whereas Vietnam was already second to Singapore with well over $6 billion.
Read the full article at http://opinion.inquirer.net/101852/good-news-bad-news-3