Into the “next normal,” the usual way of doing things cannot suffice. Our attitudes, the way we behave, and how we put things into perspective matter.
For one, the pandemic has overarchingly taught us and spelled out that government cannot be left on its own in managing the affairs of society. But with intersectoral and multi-stakeholder engagements, crisis and recovery could be a worthwhile and beneficial endeavor.
Stimulating the economy and bringing it to new heights cannot be done through the usual consumption-led approach. But with an investment-driven economy, more and better jobs could be provided to the population. In turn, such an arrangement directly bridges the gap between industry needs and education thrusts.
Recognizing the unique role of the private sector is also the prerequisite of realizing its full potential in catering to the socio-economic welfare of the country. The efficient and effective management of resources via linking society’s supply and demand chains would be at a new level and this is what the private sector specializes in.
Another critical social actor that needs to be emphasized and put in the forefront of recovery and development is civil society. Composed of nongovernmental organizations, the academe, tri-media, think tanks, and independent thought leaders, this represents a balancing force to curb corruption and promote good governance amid recovery.
And at the rate Philippine society is going, a great deal of forward-looking lessons can be gleaned not only from the first session of the Pilipinas Conference launched by Stratbase ADR Institute, dubbed “Rebooting the Economy Post-Pandemic: Cushioning the Long Emergency,” but in the succeeding sessions as well.
To avert further and future crises, a resilient recovery and development plan is needed to envelop an inclusive and multi-stakeholder recovery. Manufacturing, physical and digital infrastructure, consumption, remittances, environment, and agriculture necessitate a proportional emphasis based on the priorities of economy and government.
Aside from the health and economic crises that affronted us, the political health of our system equally requires attention. The loss of transparency, threats to elections, and militarization prod us to unceasingly uphold transparent and accountable governance. In a particular landscape, the rapid digitization of Filipino lives opens the window for the implementation of e-governance. Through e-governance, data could be harnessed and utilized in holding public servants accountable to their constituents.
In setting development goals for recovery, however, consultation should be done with the different sectors in society. Government leaders cannot simply manifest their “strong political will” at the onset of a crisis and then suddenly wane in its duration. In this line, the private sector should steadfastly be the driving force of our economy, while simultaneously promoting social responsibility.
The global economic turmoil was caused by the lockdowns and movement restrictions to impede, if not stop, the spread of the virus. Our country was thrown into an economic tailspin and we are facing economic pessimism and contraction. As a result, the disruption of the supply chain triggered recession and the accelerating velocity of economic activities slowed to a turtle’s pace.
It is noteworthy that the private sector has proven to be a core component of our nation’s recovery. Business leaders will continue to share their short- and long-term outlooks on challenges and threats that we face in a post-pandemic world.
The challenges of 2020 — the decline of traditional growth drivers such as consumption, remittances and services, the technical recession, the pains in striking a balance between economic health and public health, the political health of our system being compromised under “emergency powers,” the weak social protection, the emerging regional political-security environment, the need for climate resilient sustainable communities, and the judicious approach to avert more crisis and promote recovery — should be our springboard onward to 2021.
Crafting the “next normal” must be guided by the chief principle of how to translate challenges and crises into opportunities should the next year prove to be another “long emergency” for Filipinos.
From this new normal, to navigate our society through the crisis and veer toward recovery and growth, demands a rethinking and an eventual changing of mentality.
What we need is an investment-led economy that is capable of making growth more sustainable and inclusive by creating jobs and providing stable incomes to countless Filipinos.
What we need are fruitful government-private sector partnerships and a vibrant citizenship to strengthen society’s resilience.
Victor Andres “Dindo” C. Manhit is the President of Stratbase ADR Institute.