Tuesday, March 9, 2010

RP 4th most corrupt on Asia-Pacific list (Gloria’s graft-ridden gov’t root of widespread poverty—Erap)

By Michaela P. del Callar

Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20100310hed1.html

It is no surprise that the Philippines under President Arroyo is again still in the bottom list of corrupt economies.

The Philippines slid two notches from sixth place last year and has remained on the bottom list of most corrupt Asia-Pacific economies, ranking fourth in an international survey, next to Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

A regional poll of expatriate businessmen released Tuesday by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) showed Indonesia as the most corrupt economy with a score of 9.27, followed by Cambodia (9.10), Vietnam (8.07) and the Philippines (8.06).

On a scale of zero to 10, zero is the best possible score, indicating the lowest level of corruption among politicians and civil servants Singapore (1.42), Australia (2.28), and Hong Kong (2.67) maintained their rankings as the cleanest economies.

They were followed by the United States (3.42), Japan (3.49), Macau (4.96), South Korea (5.98), Taiwan (6.28), Malaysia (6.47), China (6.52), India (7.18), and Thailand (7.60).

The survey result is considered “another black eye for the Philippines,” according to a senior Filipino diplomat. In 2009, the country’s standing slightly improved when it placed sixth in the PERC survey with a score of 7.0 compared to its number one ranking in 2008 with a score of 9.0.

“This indicates how investors look at the Philippines and this is something that should not be disregarded or simply ignored by the government,” the diplomat, who asked not to be named, said.

It is usual for Arroyo and her Malacanang spokesmen to dismiss such surveys, generally saying that these are “old” and “rehashed” surveys, while producing their own surveys showing a rosy picture of her government,

Former president Joseph Estrada, standard-bearer of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), pointed out that widespread corruption in the Arroyo administration is the cause of the growing number of poor Filipinos and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

“Wealth distribution (under the Arroyo government) is not equal. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer,” Estrada said, as he cited the result of the study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a government think tank, which noted “an alarming trend” in data on poverty. The institute said the country’s poverty rate increased to nearly 33 percent in 2006 from 30 percent in 2003.

“During my administration, the poverty rate went down. This means that corruption in the Arroyo administration is widespread and deeply embedded,” Estrada said.

The institute validated Estrada’s statement, saying there was a downtrend in poverty “during the 1985 to 2000 period.” Estrada was elected president in 1998.

The authors of the study, Dr. Celia Reyes and Aubrey Tabuga, explained that “the 2.9-percent increase in the percentage of the poor is equivalent to about 4 million additional poor people. This brings the total to roughly 27.6 million in 2006.”

Tabuga and Reyes found that poverty is high in rural areas and that “poverty situation” in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and in Metro Manila “must be addressed differently.”

Estrada said the Arroyo regime’s anti-corruption measures are ineffective.

He stressed that “77 percent of Filipinos are convinced that Arroyo’s anti-corruption program is not working,” as culled from data taken from the Global Corruption Barometer, an anti-corruption watchdog.

According to the Asia Research Organization, two percent of 1,000 Filipinos said “anti-corruption initiatives were neither effective, nor ineffective.”

The Global Corruption Barometer said public officials and civil servants were perceived as the single institution or sector to be the most affected by corruption (35 percent), compared to political parties (28 percent), parliament or legislature (26 percent), judiciary (7 percent), business or private sector (3 percent), and media (1 percent).

Estrada further explained that “uneven income distribution” between the rich and the poor has not changed, citing data from the government’s Family Income and Expenditure Survey released by the National Statistical Coordination Board which showed that the bottom 30 percent of families had 8.6 percent of total family income in 2009 while the top 30 percent of Filipino families accounted for 64.7 percent. This barely changed from 2003, when the bottom 30 percent had an 8.5 percent share and the top 30 percent, 64.7 percent.

Last year’s global surveys reveal that the country continues to slide from rankings in terms of competitiveness.

From 71th place, the Philippines slid to 8th place, down by 16 notches, among the 133 countries based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report of 2009.

Based on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2010, the Philippines ranked 141th from 144th place.

In the World Competitiveness Yearbook by the Institute for Management Development, the Philippines also found itself in the lower echelon among 57 economies, at 43rd place, which is a slip of three notches. Still based on the World Competitiveness Report, the Philippines placed last among the 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

International surveys also showed that foreign investors are wary of political risk, including the risk of nationalization and expropriation, saying these are greatest government-related obstacles to doing business in the country. Local and foreign business chambers have also highlighted the need for addressing graft and corruption and continued reforms in the country.

Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20100310hed1.html

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