POSTSCRIPT / July 23, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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What Noy may omit in his farewell SONA

IN HIS valedictory State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Noynoy Aquino is expected to again pat his administration on the back. To repeat a cliché he once used, he will concentrate on the doughnut instead of the hole.

Now on his last year in office, he has no more reason to make promises or outline a future program. He is reduced to looking back at his old road map, if any, and tell an anxious people where his performance the past five years has taken them.

To somewhat balance his expected glowing SONA, we culled facts and figures from a speech days ago of ​Dr. Ben Diokno before the Rotary Club of Manila focusing on what the President is likely to overlook in his SONA. (Check livestream video of Diokno speech at

Phl worst among ASEAN-5 economies

DIOKNO, the budget undersecretary of the late President Cory Aquino and later budget secretary in the Estrada administration, reported that the Philippines is now the worst in major economic indexes of the World Economic Forum:

• While the Philippines’ GNP (gross national product) has grown, Filipinos remain the poorest among ASEAN-5 economies with a GDP (gross domestic product) per capita of US$2,790 which is roughly 5 percent of that of Singapore.
• The Philippines has the highest unemployment rate among ASEAN-5 economies. The five (in alphabetical order) are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the most robust economies of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
• On unemployment, the ranking now is: Singapore 3.1, Malaysia 3.0, Thailand 0.6, Indonesia 6.2, the Philippines 7. (Source: World Economic Report, Global Competitive Index 2014-2015)
• In the Human Development Index, the Philippines ranks 117 out of 144 countries. (Source: World Economic Report, Global Competitive Index 2014-2015)
• Of the ASEAN-5 economies, the Philippines has attracted the least Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). From January to April 2015, net FDI inflow was US$1.234 billion, 48.3 percent lower than the US$2.386 billion recorded in the same period in 2014.
• The Philippines has the worst public infrastructure among ASEAN-5 economies. Effect of this: other things being equal, foreign investors would rather go to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand than to the Philippines.
• In terms of quality of overall infrastructure, the Philippines ranks worst among the ASEAN-5. Out of 144 countries rated, the Philippines ranks No. 95 (144 being the lowest) while neighboring Singapore ranks No. 5. Ranking: Singapore 5, Malaysia 20, Indonesia 72, Thailand 76, the Philippines 95. (Source: World Economic Forum 2015)
• As for quality of road infrastructure, the Philippines ranks the worst among the ASEAN-5. Ranking: Singapore 6, Malaysia 19, Thailand 50, Indonesia 72, the Philippines 87. (Source: World Economic Forum)
• On quality of railroad infrastructure, the Philippines ranks the worst among the ASEAN-5. Ranking: Singapore n.a., Malaysia 12; Indonesia 41; Thailand 74; the Philippines 80. On port infrastructure, the Philippines ranks the poorest: Singapore 2, Malaysia 19, Thailand 54, Indonesia 77, the Philippines 101.
• In terms of the quality of air transport infrastructure, the Philippines also ranks the worst among the ASEAN-5, and one of the worst in the world. Ranking: Singapore 1, Malaysia 19, Thailand, 37, Indonesia 64, the Philippines 108. (Source: World Economic Forum 2015)
• On the quality of electricity supply, the Philippines ranks the worst among the ASEAN-5. The Philippines’ power supply is also the most expensive in Asia. Ranking: Singapore 6, Malaysia 39, Thailand 58, Indonesia 84, the Philippines 87.

BIR, IRS widen access to bank deposits

WE HAVE been waiting for the usual eagle-eyed senators to inquire into a new Philippines-United States agreement allowing the agencies of both countries to gather and swap information on bank deposits and related accounts of their citizens.

Normally something like this would raise a howl over eavesdropping (by a foreign government at that) on bank accounts without the depositor’s consent or a court order, but it seems senators are too engrossed with something else or have decided to keep quiet on this one.

Filipino officials with something to hide would rather lie low rather than risk getting caught in the dragnets cast by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the US Internal Revenue Service.

Dual citizens and green card holders are now required to file a report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) if they have a financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account outside the US whose total value exceeds $10,000.

The rule applies to “US persons” who include Americans (even those living or working in the Philippines), lawful US residents, corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies, trusts and estates created under US laws that are holding or managing financial accounts outside the US.

We tweeted Sen. Grace Poe days ago to ask of she is covered by the FBAR rule. She did not reply. (For more details, read our Postscript of last July 12 at

Actually our column on it came two days before the signing of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) by Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and US Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of the US.

FATCA targets tax evaders and such crooks as drugs syndicates, terrorist groups, money launderers and corrupt officials hiding illicit wealth. But many bona fide depositors who maintain bank accounts for normal legitimate purposes complain of feeling harassed.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 23, 2015)

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