Too Little, Too Inconsequential, Too Late

Tax rebates are also nothing new with the numerous tax holidays and incentives that multinational companies such as Intel, which dominate the export industries, have been receiving. Likewise the much announced direct cash transfers are old news. Interesting though is the admission that this would benefit only two in five Filipinos officially considered as poor, who are not too many with the government’s very low poverty threshold level.

The other solution of the Arroyo government to provide loans for livelihood projects could not make up for the loss of income of retrenched workers. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) claims that it has allotted P402,852,000 ($8,481,808) and has already distributed P4.2 million ($88,428) to 1,015 workers. This amounts to a mere P 4,137 ($87) per worker. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has also announced that it can lend up to P50,000 ($1,052) to displaced OFWs. What kind of livelihood project and how much could one earn with such meager capitalization? Even for a sari sari (variety) store, how many goods can one buy with P50,000 ($1,052) and how much could be earned from it? How could a small variety store with a capitalization of P50,000 ($1,052) cope with the continuously increasing prices of goods?

Besides, the Arroyo government tends to favor big business to the detriment of small and medium enterprises. It is the small and medium businesses that are the favorite whipping boys of the Arroyo government every time it is looking for someone to blame for a crisis and whenever it wants to show that it is doing something for the public. Look at how it is running after small LPG retailers when they are merely caught in the middle of a complaining public and the price and supply manipulation by big oil companies.

The same is true with small and medium drugstores. They shoulder the different discounts approved by the government such as the Senior Citizens’ discount while the multinational drug companies are assured of their profits. Small and medium drugstores would also carry the burden of the impending price regulation of common medicines.

The efforts of the Arroyo government to address the impact of the combination of the world economic crisis and the crisis of Philippine society are too little, too inconsequential, and too late. The extent of the crisis requires nothing less than a radical restructuring of the economy of the country; and only the Filipino people, who are suffering the brunt of the crisis, would have the political will to do so. (

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