What is the measure of a country’s true greatness? Real greatness cannot be measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but by the pride and joy we have as one nation, with no one left behind.
Michael Green of Social Progress Index says GDP, “tallies the value of all the goods and services produced by a country each year (and) has become the yardstick by which we measure a country’s success…but it only accounts for a country’s economic performance, not the happiness or well-being of its citizens. With GDP, if your richest 100 people get richer, your GDP rises … but most of your citizens are just as badly off as they were before.”
In other words, money is not everything to a nation. Especially because that money is usually found only in a few pockets. And no matter how those pockets bulge only a few stray coins find their way into the meagre pockets of the rest of the population.
No, money is not the whole story – no matter what the economists and global financial institutions say the Philippines has achieved in terms of economic progress, we are far from being an equitable, just and prosperous nation. A very few have way too much, and too many have way too little. We are far from great.
This is a major goal of the Duterte Presidency – to make right the economic, social, environmental and spiritual imbalance of the Filipino nation, a condition so widely felt it gave him an overwhelming mandate which he now has to honour.
The Social Progress Index points out the three dimensions of a good and functioning society.
BASIC HUMAN NEEDS
FOUNDATIONS OF WELL-BEING
- basic education,
- sustainable environment
- individual rights,
- freedom of choice,
- freedom from discrimination, and
- access to higher education
Compare the proposed 8 point plan of the incoming presidency.
- continue and maintain current macroeconomic policy.
- Reduce corruption of tax revenue collection
- accelerate the public-private partnerships
- create jobs and inject economic activity
- Attract direct foreign investments
- enhance business competitiveness .
- national government to follow the “Davao model”
- business licenses released in the shortest possible time.
- Reduce crime to increase security of businessmen and consumers.
- develop the rural areas in the country
- support small farmers to improve productivity.
- encourage more agricultural processing in the agricultural areas,
- promote tourism in the rural areas of the country.
- address bottlenecks in the land administration system: ensure tenure for investors
- Land Registration Administration,
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
- National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the
- Department of Agrarian Reform – have difficulty cooperating.
- strengthen the basic education system
- tertiary education scholarships to meet private sector demand
- progressive tax system indexed to inflation rate
- Expand the conditional cash transfer program
- expand the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance System.
Most, if not all the points address BASIC HUMAN NEEDS and some of WELL-BEING – that is where the Philippines is at this moment. In spite of the concrete, glass and steel towers one sees from the air, on the ground the average Filipino still has to scrounge to have decent food on the table, for basic needs.
Globally, Norway tops the list of countries that tick all the boxes of the Social Progress Index: excellent access to water and sanitation, basic education, individual freedom and choice. It also has a high GDP because of its abundant natural resources. Having natural resources does not automatically translate into national well-being. In the Philippines, our rich resources (for example, mining and energy) have not resulted in investment in human and social capital for broad-based economic growth.
The Philippines needs
- a more inclusive growth strategy so that more people are truly benefitted, not just those who control the resources and their investors.
- Everybody must have access to health care, sanitation, education & information
Social Progress takes time, but if the Duterte Presidency lays the proper foundation, and it looks like it can because it owes its mandate to the people not to interested parties, then we could become a great nation.
For the plain and simple reason, that at a particular moment in time the majority decided to change for the better. I hope and pray, that more than the Digong charisma, our collective will can sustain us through the changes in the next few years, and when we have broken through, we can say, “we did it”, not just the President, but all of us. That would be the foundation for greatness – that we acted as one for the common good.