Corrupt ‘invulnerable’ under Gloria, says JFC

Published by rudy Date posted on July 2, 2009

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC), which is composed of the biggest foreign trade groups in the country, has asked the Arroyo administration to take forceful and effective action against corruption as it said the corrupt remain “invulnerable to prosecution” under Mrs. Arroyo’s dispensation.

The group, in a recently released paper called Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on the Philippines: Preparing to Rebuild Foreign Investment Inflows, cited surveys of foreign investor sentiment that list corruption as the top concern in the country.

The JFC have as members the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Phils. Inc., the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.

The paper contained a table showing the Philippines landing in the cellar for foreign investments infused in the six emerging economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in both 2008 and 2007.

The table showed the Philippines receiving only $2.9 billion worth of foreign direct investments in 2007 compared to Singapore’s $25.3 billion, Thailand’s $11.2 billion, Malaysia’s $8.4 billion, Indonesia’s $6.9 billion and Vietnam’s $6.7 billion.

The Philippines was also the doormat for foreign inflows last year getting a smaller $1.5 billion, compared to Malaysia with $12.9 billion, Vietnam with $11.5 billion, Singapore with $10.3 billion, Thailand with $9.4 billion, and Indonesia wth $5.5 billion.

The paper said the reason that the Philippines is not being seriously affected by global recession is that it never attained a level of high economic development.

It quoted a statement of University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics professor Felipe Medalla saying that “the Philippines is not badly affected because our boat did not leave the port.”

The paper said for decades, the country had been witness to extensive local media coverage of congressional and other investigations but these rarely lead to trials and sentencing of corrupt officials.

“This has led to the consistent classification of the Philippine government among the most corrupt in Asia,” it added.

It said regulatory, judicial and policy risks can deter investors, while large scale smuggling undermines investment, depriving the government of much-needed revenue.

“Tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment have bypassed the Philippines as a result of corruption, which also prevents the country from availing of more foreign assistance.

The proverbial “big fish” can only swim freely in a sea of official tolerance and complicity, it added.

“Observers note that, despite widespread awareness of their corruption, the corrupt remain invulnerable to prosecution,” the paper noted.

It added in developed economies, corruption is restrained by the credible risk of punishment.

“In the Philippines resources to investigate and prosecute, as well as political will, are inadequate (against corruption),” it noted.

Until corruption is greatly diminished, the country will not realize its very considerable economic potential, it said.

“At the last World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, President Arroyo spoke of the need to ‘reboot’ the economy but has not offered concrete proposals, as she has focused on her short-term Economic Resiliency Plan,” it added.

Applied to computer hardware, “reboot” means to turn off the power and start again, usually to fix a problem. “Rebooting” the economy implies undertaking hard reforms that fix problems, in order for the economy to perform better, it said.

We encourage the President to share her proposals for rebooting in her forthcoming State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July and encourage candidates for the presidency to include specific business and economic reform proposals in their platforms, the paper said. –Daily Tribune

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