Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Economic gains from election spending

Former national treasurer Prof. Leonor Briones warned against uneven spread of economic gains from election spending.

She noted this activity is a boon to services but hardly benefits the Philippine agricultural sector where poverty is most rife.

"The agricultural sector is therefore just like a spectator amidst the election flurry," she said at State-run PTV 4's 'Hatol ng Bayan' program for the 2013 mid-term polls.

Briones linked the imbalance to mismatch in agricultural workers' skills and election-related labor demands which farmers and fisher folk are generally unable to meet.

"Many of them don't possess the skills required for poll-related work," she said.

Among target activities of election-fueled manpower mobilization are production and distribution of campaign paraphernalia, transaction with financial and other institutions, provision of transportation and accommodation as well as promotion of candidates through traditional and new media.

A sample selected statement of poll-related expenditures National Economic Development Authority-affiliated researchers sourced from Commission on Elections and presented in 2010 show media-related expenses accounted for some 71.26 percent and 73.29 percent of campaign expenditures incurred by presidential and senatorial candidates in 2004, respectively.

"Based on distribution of election expenditures, government services has the highest spending (27.4 percent) followed by manufacturing of election materials (26.6 percent)," the researchers also noted.

They said: "Advertising, to include radio, TV and recreational and cultural activities has an estimated combined share of 22.3 percent while labor recruitment and provision of personnel has a total share of 10.4 percent.

Aggregating, expenditures in the three main production sectors of the economy, services sector accounts for about 73.4 percent and the rest go to industry specifically manufacturing (26.6 percent)."

Briones said: "Campaign-related activities usually commence before elections as candidates and government prepare to woo voters."

The Dept. of Agriculture earlier reported Philippine agriculture expanded by nearly three percent in 2012, fueled by the 3.60 percent combined growth in the crops, livestock and poultry sub-sectors.

"At current prices, value of agricultural production amounted to PhP1.4 trillion, higher by 1.17 percent from the 2011 level," DA also said.

DA likewise reported agriculture accounted for 11 percent of Philippine GDP in 2011 when the country's economy grew nearly four percent.

Latest available data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, released last year, demonstrate poverty's grip on the agricultural sector, however.

The data show 2009 poverty incidence in the country's nine basic sectors was highest among farmers (36.7 percent) and fisher folk (41.4 percent).

Such rates even exceed the 26.5 percent poverty incidence NSCB reported for the entire Philippine population that year.

"Agriculture is the country's biggest sector but has the bulk of poor people nationwide," Briones noted.

NSCB data likewise show poverty incidence was highest among farmers and fisherfolk in 2006 and 2003.

For both reference years, NSCB reported corresponding incidence rates of 37.2 percent and 37 percent among farmers.

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