Perlas plans to junk neoliberalism
By Iris Gonzales
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Environmentalist and presidential candidate Nicanor Perlas plans to junk neoliberalism or the kind of economic policy that minimizes the role of the government and focuses on the role of the private sector if he becomes the country’s next president.
Instead, Perlas said his economic agenda would be guided by “institutional economics” which is generally focused on reforming institutions so that the market can function.
“The market can only function if institutions are functioning,” he said yesterday in a roundtable discussion with editors and reporters of The STAR.
While he did not lay down specific measures on how to strengthen the different institutions, Perlas said that when he becomes president, his priority would be to strengthen these institutions in the country so that the market would also strengthen.
He doesn’t believe in making economic growth trickle down to the grassroots. Instead, he believes growth should be focused directly on the priority sectors, including the poor.
“I believe in direct assistance to the poor,” Perlas said, adding that the needs of the less fortunate would be his priority. These include energy, health, employment and entrepreneurship.
Perlas also believes in decentralizing the economy away from Metro Manila.
“We have to create a dynamic economy,” he said, citing that economic growth should reach the provinces.
Elaborating on his economic agenda, Perlas said his priority sectors would be agriculture and tourism.
“Agriculture is going to be massively paid attention to,” he said, noting that 70 percent of poverty in the Philippines is seen in the agricultural sector such as in fisheries and in farmlands.
Perlas said there are hundreds of mature technologies existing in the Philippines that have not been utilized for the improvement of the agricultural sector.
He lamented for instance why the Philippines has to import rice when it can very well meet the demands of the market with the proper technology.
“I don’t see the reason why we need to import rice. So what we will do is to give attention to improving irrigation facilities, especially for rice,” Perlas said.
Aside from agriculture, Perlas said ecotourism would also be a priority. He said he wants to improve the current practice of tourism in the Philippines which, he said, commodifies the Filipino culture.