Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Bad Debts

We need to do something about the debt problem. More than 40% of the budget goes towards paying the interest on our numerous debts. We currently have a law that automatically appropriates money from whatever money the government makes through the collection of taxes, exports, overseas remittances, etc. Because of the large share that ends up being eaten by interest payments, social services that had already been marginal have been cut back further. There are hardly any appreciable investments being made towards the maintenance and upgrade of infrastructure. Schoolteacher salaries have been stagnant. Government, which should be the prime engine that drives the economy, has acted with embarrassing impotence simply because it does not have the money to stimulate growth.

Remember that part of this debt continues to come from dubious deals that were made 30 years ago including a nuclear power plant that was built but never produced a single kilowatt of energy because in the indecent haste in which the deal was sealed and soon after the large payoff-bribes has been delivered, it was determined that the plant was astride a geographical fault. I remember the figure well: $300,000 a day was being paid by the Filipino people. An amount that could have built so many schoolrooms, that could have provided a glass of milk to millions of schoolchildren. Instead, one of the cronies responsible for the deal bought himself a castle and a title in Austria.

It is immoral to continue to pay interest on these odious loans. Our leaders need to show more courage when they negotiate with financial institutions that knew exactly the corrupt origins of some of these loans

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