Press Release
March 21, 2007


Says May polls crucial in turning RP Jeepney economy into SUV

Senator Mar Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committees on Trade and on Economic Affairs, yesterday said despite the stronger fiscal situation and good performance of financial markets, more people remain unable to benefit from such gains.

We must face the unfortunate reality that all is not well, that the real economy has not improved as much as the monetary economy, he told members of the Rotary Club of Makati in a speech yesterday.

He said more Filipinos have reported having experienced involuntary hunger, an all-time high of 19% or roughly 3.5 million Filipino families as of February, as reported by the Social Weather Stations. This, despite good news that the 91-day Treasury bill rate has improved to 2.94% as of February, compared to three years ago when it was in the range of 7% to 8%.

Despite strong stock market and currency performance over the past few months, other indicators highlight the fact that the financial economy remains disconnected from the real economy. He cited flat sales of electricity and appliances, decreased consumption of cement, high underemployment rate and self-rated poverty, among others.

Im sure that youre wondering why sunny statements in the financial markets arent reflected in these indicators. The truth is, the money economy remains disconnected from the real economy. Our Wall Street remains disconnected from Main Street , he said.

He likened the Philippine economy to a Jeepney that is resilient and reliable during tough times, serviceable during rains and floods, functional even on bad roads, and we can certainly overload it, he said.

But it cannot run as fast nor as clean, nor as efficiently as other better models available in other parts of the world. Our Jeepney only works in Philippine conditions, but it cannot be our vehicle for global competition, he said.

Roxas said that the upcoming national election in May is crucial in implementing reforms in seeking to transform our Jeepney economy to an SUV economy.

He said the upcoming elections are crucial in stabilizing the terrain our society stands on, and instrumental to doing the reforms necessary to re-weave these frayed threads into the whole cloth upon which we can build our lives, our economy and our country.


He hopes that the upcoming elections will yield results that we will not fight over, that the winners will be people we can respect, and that we may have selected a government composed of people that solve problems instead of creating them.

Credible elections are necessary for political will, which is what we all desire, to manifest in government and in politics, he said.

These reforms are crucial if we are to stop being an economy that cranks out, handcrafted but outmoded Jeepney, and retool ourselves and establish a modern assembly line producing more modern SUVs, he said.

Areas where reforms could address are in the allocation and deployment of resources - such as additional VAT revenues - to solve problems meaningfully; problems in the implementation of contracts, which have manifested in the recent passport crisis; improving the delivery of education, where our economys ability to value-add depends on; and on the protection of civil liberties and human rights.

These reforms are necessary to clear-out the mess, to unclog the pipes, to enable what is happening in the financial markets to flow through, to reach the real economy, will require enormous political will. The set of governance reforms that are necessary will be much more difficult than what we have been able to achieve so far, he said.

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