Saturday, November 24, 2018

BWorld 268, Market-oriented reforms in the Senate

* This is my article in BusinessWorld on November 20, 2018.

“Every family should have the right to spend their money, after tax, as they wish, and not as the government dictates. Let us extend choice, extend the will to choose and the chance to choose.”
— Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister (1979-1990)

Advocates of forced collectivism, health socialism in particular, will be unhappy with that advice from the Iron Lady of the United Kingdom. For them, health care, education, many other services are not personal and parental responsibility but state responsibility. So the state is justified to slap tax-tax-tax anywhere, regulate-prohibit anytime, because the state has “endless responsibilities” that often lead to endless abuses and corruption.

In a column yesterday in BusinessWorld, “Watching out for UHC” by Ms. Diosana of AER, they attacked Sen. Ralph Recto because he “intends to give more PhilHealth benefits to those who can pay more. Under the section “Entitlement to Benefits” of the approved SB 1896, he inserted this provision: “PhilHealth shall provide additional NHIP benefits for direct contributors, where applicable.… the two-tiered benefit scheme will also exacerbate health inequity in the country.”

This market-oriented reform initiated by the Senator is correct. There should be a two- or multiple-tiered system in health care, inequality in contribution should lead to inequality in getting benefits. Socialism wants inequality in contribution but equality in social results.

If people can afford to buy alcohol, tobacco, fatty food, nice cellphones, etc., it is assumed that they should also have some resources to buy health insurance that will augment state-sponsored health care.

SB 1998 led by Sen. Cynthia Villar will untie the heavy hands of the state and its bureaucracy to restrict and prohibit free trade in rice. By replacing high quantitative restrictions (QRs) with tariffs, the NFA’s monopoly power to import through its favored and crony traders will be clipped.

Free trade in rice means freedom to choose from various rice exporters in Asia, and freedom for consumers to choose cheaper rice, which will help reduce inflation rate.

SB 1439 by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is meant to reduce the widespread bureaucratic delays in power plant construction caused by various government agencies, national and local, which lead to fewer power plants than potential, and higher electricity prices for consumers. The delays and costs caused by the bureaucracy can be horrible, based on the actual experience of a hydro plant developer (see table).

A total of 359 signatures, from 74 regulatory agencies and bureaus, involving 20 different laws, requiring 43 different contracts, certifications, endorsements and licenses.

So the EVOSS bill will create a single electronic network-based platform under the DoE, and power plant proponents and developers will submit all documents and permits and the respective agencies are given timeline to act on applications, and if they fail to act on the timeline, the application is deemed approved. Clipping the long tentacles of bureaucracies and corruption.

SB 2073 by Sen. Ralph Recto intends to lift this obligatory and coercive training that costs professionals huge money. R.A. 10912 or the CPD Act of 2016 requires professionals to earn 45 CPD units of seminars and trainings that cost between P10,000 to P30,000 per person every three years, otherwise they cannot renew their PRC license.

That CPD Act and its mandatory order is lousy for at least two reasons: (a) Professionals normally attend various seminars, conferences and trainings in the course of their work, and (b) the market, the customers are the best judges and natural regulators. Lousy professionals are punished by customer dissatisfaction that is easily spread through social media, they lose clients.

There are many anti-market, statist or state-worship bills in the Senate of course but those proposals and bills that advance market-oriented reforms need to be highlighted.

See also: 
BWorld 265, Integrated PPP vs Hybrid PPP: The case of Kaliwa Dam, November 15, 2018 

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