CONTRARY to the positive 2019 business prospects by National Economic and Development Authority and among some members of the local business circle, I am certain that amid the local economic boom more serious busts will sweep the region now till the last three years of President Rodrigo Duterte.
I do not argue to the fact that there is a construction boom in Bacolod and its neighboring cities and other urban centers in the island. This is the construction of supermalls, convenience stores, and plush subdivisions.
Those who benefit from this are first the Chinese-Filipino moguls, commercial banks, developers, contractors, and their own suppliers and importers. Whatever employment this construction will spur is only temporary and limited, as usual.
This construction boom affects the small entrepreneurs, small food producers, small stores, small fabricators and manufacturers of tools as big malls have become one stop shop center for every consumer.
Worse, the money of middle class and overseas Filipino worker families who are relatively better will be siphoned back by the big business; the lifestyle and food habits of local consumers will be altered too as they would patronize more imported goods and fast food sprawling like hot cakes in the malls and convenience stores.
Consumer-oriented infrastructure boom, or consumers being eaten by constructions. That is how it is, and all there is.
This is the continuing irony of the economic path taken by the ruling administration; boom whose socio-economic benefit is limited to the already rich and few, and its busts as the consequence of the bias of ruling economic paradigm against the majority poor and dwindling middle class.
It is a boom which does not create sustainable jobs, nor raises the wages and improve the quality of the workers.
It is a boom which does not contribute to improving agriculture, breaking monocrop sugar-based industry, expanding its production, raising its productivity, and improving the conditions and quality of life of sugar farm and mill workers.
It is a boom for itself and by itself, nothing to do with, or separated from the economic foundations of the region, the agriculture.
There will be more busts amidst the boom. More workers will leave sugar farms and scramble for temporary and low paying construction jobs. Fresh and still jobless graduates of a college degree who cannot be absorbed by call centers will either go abroad, or work in malls, food chains and convenience stores, who are giving low pays, work like slaves, and no security of tenure.
More youth will leave rural farms to venture to urban centers to satisfy their mesmerized imaginations and cravings for “modern amenities” of life.
Cities and urban centers will be crowded by jobless and hungry people. Crimes, illegal drugs, and many other anti-social activities will rise.
Agriculture will continue to dip deeply, monocrop commercial farms will grow and expand in some areas, while the bigger part will remain backward, empty, pre-industrial, low productivity, and no value added.
Our pristine coastal areas and islets are being plundered by domestic big business and foreign capital – all in the name of eco-tourism and local revenue generation.
Government and big business don’t care about the development of our agriculture hand in hand with our manufacturing sector – except to blunder and bust it.
In the first place, most local government units are not helping in any way to alter the situation. They could not even update their comprehensive land use plan, come up with a sound comprehensive development plan, and draw realistic local development investment plan.
So, what have we got? Boom being busted as quickly as it bloomed in all levels and dimensions.
The only way to stop this madness is to re-orient the development paradigm of the government and discipline the greedy corporate institutions and their owners.
But can they do it, or willing to do it? If not, who can make them do it?
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