Wednesday, December 30, 2020

BWorld 468, Top 10 economic news of 2020

 * My column in BusinessWorld, Dec. 29, 2020.

Here is my modest list of the major economic events of the year.

1. The deep global contraction of gross domestic product (GDP). In the first three quarters of 2020, the Philippines’ GDP in particular had contracted by -9.7%, the worst performing economy in the ASEAN and among the worst performers in the whole world.

2. Global exports also contracted. Restrictions on the mobility of people and goods adversely affected manufacturing, the transport of raw materials and finished products, and, ultimately, merchandise trade. The Philippines, with measly exports of $70 billion in 2019, experienced further low exports of only $46 billion in the first three quarters of 2020.

3. Strict lockdown policies in many countries. The Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports (GCCMR) shows how visitors to (or time spent in) categorized places change compared to baseline days, the median value being from Jan. 3-Feb. 6, 2020. When it came to mobility in transit stations in particular, the Philippines seems to have had the strictest lockdown policy in the world with -84 mobility in April and -53 in November.

4. China data is proven to be dishonest again. Consider these: a.) its COVID-19 deaths per million population (CDPMP) was only three considering that the virus started and exploded from there, while Belgium has 1,650 and the UK’s is 1,090; b.) it says it has growth when many countries are in a deep contraction — it cannot hide its exports contraction; and, c.) it does not allow GCCMR to collect data because it will show the extent of its strict lockdown and business contraction (see Table 1).

5. Overspending and over-borrowings by governments. As tax revenues fell due to business shutdowns, many governments did not cut their expenditures but instead expanded spending and subsidies via huge borrowings and the printing of money by their central banks. The Philippines’ central government debt (debts by LGUs not included) was 37% of GDP in 2019 and is projected to rise to 48.9% in 2020 and 52.5% in 2021 (see Table 2).

6. The CREATE bill is refined and retroactive to 2020. The Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill in Congress intends to cut the Philippines’ high corporate income tax (CIT) rate of 30% to 25% upon signing into law, likely in early 2021, to be implemented retroactively to July 2020. The bill also targets to cut CIT to 20% by 2027.

7. President’s threat of telecom expropriation. During President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, he warned Smart and Globe telecoms that “kukunin ko ‘yan, i-expropriate ko sa gobyerno (I will get that, I will have the government expropriate it).” It was a strong, and the first, major threat of corporate expropriation by the administration. Luckily, he realized that many LGUs and some agencies are the reason why telecom firms cannot expand their cell sites and towers quickly.

8. The IPRI report on property rights protection. Government expropriation of private companies, actual or the threat of, is a clear violation of the private property protection enshrined in the Constitution. The International Property Rights Index (IPRI) annual report for 2020, a project of the Property Rights Alliance (PRA), was released last November. The Philippines retained its low global rank of 67-69 of 129 countries (see Table 2).

9. Big infra finished and legislated. Among the huge projects that were completed this year was the Skyway Stage 3 that connects SLEX to NLEX, so vehicles from Southern Luzon can go straight to Northern Luzon without passing on any street of Metro Manila. Then the legislation was passed to allow San Miguel Aerocity in Bulacan, a P736-billion 10-year construction project, to start in early 2021.

10. NAIA rehabilitation uncertainties. The expansion and modernization of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) suffered a double setback this year. First was the termination of the original proponent status (OPS) of the “super consortium” of seven conglomerates (Ayala, Aboitiz, Gokongwei, Andrew Tan, Lucio Tan, Gotianun, Pangilinan) last July, then the termination of the OPS of Megawide-GMR this December.

The year 2020 has not been good. The so-called “new normal” simply cloaked the new dictatorship with strict and indefinite lockdowns. May 2021 bring the realization that this is folly so that human prosperity can resume again.

See also:
BWorld 465, Construction contraction and steel issues, December 13, 2020 
BWorld 466, Tourism, investment and NAIA modernization, December 25, 2020 
BWorld 467, Electricity supply-demand and climate, December 26, 2020

BWorld 278, Top 10 economic news of 2018, January 15, 2019 
BWorld 399, Top 10 economic stories of 2019, January 03, 2020.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Energy 137, Piki Lopez's climate and energy alarmism

My column this week in BusinessWorld, has partially mentioned and criticized the paper and speech of Mr. Piki Lopez. I will expand that in this blog post, hard data do not conform with some of his alarmist narratives.

"Forging collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future — 2"
By Federico "Piki" R. Lopez,  Chair and CEO, First Philippine Holdings Corporation
December 7, 2020 | 6:09 pm

1. "Today our way of life has set us on a trajectory of 3 to 4 degrees C of warming by 2100. This current path will clearly be catastrophic and turn the Earth into an unlivable and socially disrupted planet way before then and surely within the lifetimes of our children."

--> Climate change is about natural warming-cooling cycle, purely cyclical and natural, with or without humans and their SUVs, coal, oil or nuke power plants. And in paleoclimate data, global temps do not rise or decline 3 to 4 C within decades.

a. Global temperature the past 5,000 years,

b. Global temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, last 400,000 years,

2. "This year we saw record high temperatures in both the Antarctic and the Arctic...(For perspective: the Greenland ice sheet in the Arctic has 7.3 meters worth of sea level rise in them; Antarctica, the world’s ice locker, has 58 meters worth of potential sea level rise built in.)"

--> "record 
high temperatures in both the Antarctic and the Arctic", where did he get that? Less ice in the Arctic compensated by more ice in Antarctica this decade, they have their own natural ice-melt cycle there yearly. Sea level rise when the ice there melt-grow yearly. Nothing, nada to worry from emotional alarmism.

a. Arctic ice extent, 1980s to 2020. Data as of Nov. 15, 2020.

b. Antarctica,

3. "In October 2018, the UN IPCC was clamoring for us to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2030, and take it all the way down to Net Zero by 2050 if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C by 2100. That’s roughly a 6-7% annual reduction in carbon emissions till 2050. Just for perspective, this year travel and transport reductions and the economic slowdown from COVID-19 is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 7-8%. In other words, we need a COVID-scale crisis every year till 2050 just to keep the planet livable!"

--> Cut big carbon emissions where, from China and India? As of 2016, this is how it looked in some countries alone. Coal plants in the US, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam not included in the illustration.

And why would anyone ever say that "
we need a COVID-scale crisis every year till 2050 just to keep the planet livable!" Such a very irresponsible statement. We "need" these national and global lockdown dictatorship? For what, to prevent less flood and more flood, less storms and more storms, less rats and more rats?

4. "How long can even the strongest, most resilient communities withstand this relentless and repeated pounding year after year if they can lose everything they have at least 20 times a year?"

--> Those average 20 typhoons a year in the PH that enter the PH area of responsibility (PAR), more than half make actual landfall, the others just enter then exit in the ocean and sea within PAR. 

So are the global tropical storms getting plentier, more frequent than in the past? Far out.

How about cyclone energy, are they getting stronger, more virulent than in the past? Far out.

5. "Our way of life and patterns of production and mass consumption now use 1.75 Earths annually. That’s 75% more than the Earth can replenish each year.... All the main life support systems of our planet, from our oceans, forests, air, soils, biodiversity, and freshwater resources are all in decline."

--> "all life support in decline", again where did he get this? From a trash can? The planet's life support for humanity is never diminished, never reduced, never in decline. Otherwise, modernity has stopped many years and decades ago.

It's unfortunate that many famous businesspeople like Mr. Lopez, even the Ayalas, WEF guys can morph into gloom-doom, horror story tellers.

If people are more honest and objective, more factual and not emotional, they will just laugh at all the climate horror alarm narratives. And if they should be consistent in their anti-fossil fuel agenda, then they must demonize not only coal and oil but also natgas. Which in the first place is wrong because humanity has developed and modernized via cheap, abundant, reliable fossil fuel energy.

BWorld 467, Electricity supply-demand and climate

* My article in BusinessWorld, December 21, 2020.

The indefinite, no timetable lockdown policy of the government continues to pummel many businesses, and restrictions in economic activities are reflected in the continued decline in the country’s electricity demand.

Data from the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) shows that average demand in the Luzon-Visayas grids this year grew moderately at 4.3% in the first quarter (Q1) compared to the same quarter in 2019, then contracted -14.6% in Q2, -2.6% in Q3, and -6.8% in Q4. In comparison, the Philippines’ GDP contracted -0.7% in Q1, -16.9% in Q2, and -11.5% in Q3.

With a decrease in demand while the supply remains high, prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) also decreased. The effective spot settlement price (ESSP) this year contracted from -21% to -71% while the load weighted average price (LWAP) contracted from -13% to -64% (see Table 1).

The decline in prices though cannot be fully reflected in the generation charge in our monthly electricity bills because spot quantity is only about 10% of all WESM electricity trading this year and 90% via bilateral contract where prices have been set for many years between gencos and distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) as the distributors want insurance that they will get the power when they need it.

There are four stories and Opinion pieces in BusinessWorld that I want to comment on:

1. “PHL coal-fired power capacity seen increasing by 135% despite moratorium on new projects” (Dec. 2).

2. “Worst case for continuing with PHL coal projects seen at P372B in long-term costs” (Dec. 12).

3. “Forging collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future,” Part 1 (Dec. 1) and Part 2 (Dec. 8) by Federico “Piki” R. Lopez, Chair and CEO of First Philippine Holdings Corp.

4. “ERC to enforce new rules on allowable outages of power plants” (Dec. 19).

Reports 1 and 2 cite the studies by Clean Air Asia (CAA) and Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), respectively. Both studies complain about more coal power, CREA even goes wild and irrational in projecting 26,000 premature deaths in the Philippines because of those coal plants.

The rise in coal share to total power generation in the country especially in 2018 and 2019 (see Table 2) coincided with high GDP growth of 6.2% and 6% respectively. It also coincided with the rising life expectancy of Filipinos to 71.1 years in 2018 from 69.8 years in 2010.

When there is a rising supply of cheap, stable, reliable electricity, there is also rising potential for the economy and people live wealthier, healthier, and longer, not shorter. The anti-coal NGOs are peddling the usual energy disinformation and fake news.

On #3, Mr. Lopez wrote in his Acceptance Speech as “MAP Management Man of the Year” award on Nov. 23:

“Today our way of life has set us on a trajectory of 3 to 4 degrees C of warming by 2100… this year travel and transport reductions and the economic slowdown from COVID-19 is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 7-8%. In other words, we need a COVID-scale crisis every year till 2050 just to keep the planet livable!”

With this kind of alarmist projections and statements, it may help to remind people that all gloom-doom projections in the past of climate catastrophe did not happen, all were false. See these four reports for instance:

1. “UN Predicts Disaster (by 2000) if Global Warming Not Checked,” June 30, 1989,

2. “Last chance to save the planet?” May 30, 1992,

3. “Arctic summers ice-free by 2013,” Dec. 12, 2007,

4. “Gore: Polar ice cap may disappear by summer 2014,” Dec. 14, 2009,

On report number 4, this is problematic for three reasons: One, the generation sector continues to be very competitive with 135 gencos in Luzon-Visayas alone as of September 2020 from only 114 in 2018, so why harass these players? Two, ERC could be making arbitrary values on what is allowable and not allowable and hence to be penalized. Three, gencos would lose money, not gain, if they have frequent or prolonged shutdowns, scheduled or unscheduled: they cannot sell at WESM, they must buy replacement power normally at higher price to fulfil their supply contracts with DUs and ECs.

The ERC should stay away from additional regulations that can discourage more gencos coming in, and existing ones to further expand. The environmental NGOs should be more truthful, be more factual and not emotional.

See also:
BWorld 464, Meralco, QPPL and expensive solar-wind, December 05, 2020
BWorld 465, Construction contraction and steel issues, December 13, 2020 
BWorld 466, Tourism, investment and NAIA modernization, December 25, 2020.

The corruption in poverty, climate and virus over-spending

Poverty data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that in 2018, only 12.1% of PH households are poor at poverty threshold of P25,813 per person per year.

"Self-rated poverty" data from the Social Weather Station (SWS) show that in 2018, 48% of PH households considered themselves "poor" and in November 2020, the same 48% considered themselves "poor" and 36% as "borderline poor."

The PSA data here,

I think people compare themselves with others or their neighbors, not with how they lived 5 or 10 years ago. Until about 10-15 yrs ago, the poor ride bicycles, cows and carabaos. Now the poor ride motorcycles, e-bikes or 3rd hand cars. Before, the poor communicate via slow mail, now they communicate via FB, IG, twitter, Viber, Messenger, etc. So perhaps a case of "I feel poor because I only drive a motorcycle while my neighbor drives a 2nd hand car."

Another reason, the poor or pretending poor know that they will get many freebies with no timetable if they declare themselves as poor, don't declare their extra or higher income -- free education until university, free healthcare/Philhealth, free cash transfer, even free housing ala Kadamay, etc. When government subsidizes endlessly poverty, they will get more poverty-declaring people.

The various bureaucracies, politicians also are happy when there is high poverty. DSWD, DOH, DepEd, DILG, etc will never be able to justify their big and ever-rising budget if poverty is low.

People respond to incentives, it's shown in Econ 11. If prices are high, produces sell more so the supply curve is upward sloping. If prices are low, consumers buy more so the demand curve is downward sloping. The same way, if there are many freebies, forever subsidies with no timetable if one is poor, then many people will declare themselves as poor. And the various bureaucracies and politicians will certify them as poor. Takes two to tango.

Extending further… there is no big money in natural and “nature-made” climate change (CC) and warming. It is denied, demonized and attacked. Only “man-made” CC narrative should be entertained. Why? Because there is no money-money-money in the former, warming and cooling just alternate each other. But there is BIIIIG money in the latter. Governments imposing high oil-coal tax, carbon tax, subsidies to renewables, creating climate bureaucracies and climate meetings, spending multi-billions on climate adaptation/mitigation, etc.

And there is no big money in hastening herd immunity via focused protection of the medical frontliners, elderly, and those with existing diseases while allowing the young and healthy to go out freely. But there is BIG money in vaccine procurement and hence, the continued virus scare mongering and hysteria.

Drug Price Control 52, Advisory Council vs Affirmation Council

The DOH Advisory Council (AC) was created in early 2009 presided by then DOH USec for Health Regulations Alex Padilla. DOH Secretariat was headed by NCPAM Director Dr. Robert So. Before 2009, I was writing and blogging about innovation and IPR, dangers of compulsory licensing (CL), price control, other threats to private property and market competition. The Medicines Transparency Alliance (META) was formed in 2008 with funding from UK DFID, and within META the civil society group was CHAT. The first and big META forum Jan. 2009 I wrote here,

USec Alex knew that my group or think tank, Minimal Government Thinkers, was small but he wanted to hear broad and wide perspectives on drug price regulation and related matters. After all, it’s the DOH that will make the final decision after listening to various viewpoints, and so I was a regular member of the AC. Prominent and active members then were Joey Ochave of Unilab, Edward Isaac of PCPI, Reiner Gloor of PHAP, Edsel Manuel of Mercury, Lyle Morrel and Bel Pesayco of Watsons, Leonie Ocampo of Mansons, Normita Leyesa of PPHA, Rusty Jimenez (RIP) of PrHAP, James Auste of CWP, Angel Mendoza (RIP) of AGAP, Gov Obet Pagdanganan of META, others. The current AC members, I think about 80% of the names here are new and not around in 2009.

The June 2009 meetings, the Council composition, I wrote here,

About Lolo Angel Mendoza and CHAT, I wrote here in 2012,

In 3rd and 4th quarter 2020 AC meetings, I was no longer invited. In Q1 and Q2 meetings, I was invited and I spoke against price control, that DOH is again creating new criteria that are 100% outside the criteria of RA 9502 and its IRR, meaning bordering on illegality and violation of the law. Perhaps this displeases the DOH, so no more wide and broad perspectives. Not Advisory Council with wide and contrary views, only Affirmation Council to justify what have been decided and pushed by the DOH.

Out of curiosity, I asked some members of the AC what happened in the Q4 meeting. Few feedback I got.

1. Ric Samaniego of PCCW said that (a) no product or company withdrawals or closures in previous price control 2009, and (b) price cuts are useless if products are not available, so  companies must make these available.

2. DSAP requested to defer round 2 of price control as it is adversely affecting small drugstores,  Ric argued that everyone was affected, they must ask for more discounts from suppliers to support their operations.

On (1a), If Joey O was in the meeting, perhaps he could have said that many small local pharma became bankrupt in the 2009 price control. He and Edward said this in some AC meetings in 2010 onwards. Also, based on the PH Stats Authority (PSA) data, there are less pharma manufacturers now, 124 in 2012, 117 in 2018. See the other numbers here,

There were company and product withrawals, so Ric's statement of no withrawal is just emotional speculation.

On (1b), here is a refresher about supply-demand changes after price changes, I made this graph. If there is market competition and no price dictatorship, the “equilibrium price” where supply meets demand is at point A. If there is govt price control, the supply curve moves to the left, companies or products that cannot adjust to forcible big price cut will exit the market. It is represented by the shift leftwards in quantity from Q market to Q control.

At this point, ideologues will feel happy because their political agenda has been fulfilled but patients and their families with less choices will be unhappy. So if there will be round 2, round 3 of price dictatorship, more happiness for the ideologues, less choices and options for the patients.

Another illustration, price control in fare-setting or fare control and its impact in the supply-demand of public transpo,

See also:
Drug Price Control 49, The FEF statement, July 24, 2020 
Drug Price Control 50, Wallace, Clarete and LKI, August 08, 2020 
Drug Price Control 51, Pharma efficiency and lower drug prices, December 08, 2020.

Friday, December 25, 2020

BWorld 466, Tourism, investment and NAIA modernization

* My column in BusinessWorld, December 14, 2020.

At the BusinessWorld Economic Forum 2020 last month, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and other speakers discussed the difficulties of the tourism sector in the current virus scare and lockdown environment and how they cope and plan for the near future. And at the 9th Arangkada Philippines Forum 2020 held by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines this month, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. narrated similar experiences and explained how the sector’s players intend to recover.

Even before the global and national lockdowns and travel restrictions, the Philippines was not getting enough international visitors, attracting only 8+ million in 2019 compared with the 15 to 40 million visiting our major neighbors in the ASEAN. One reason is that while visitors from Vietnam can go by land to Cambodia and Thailand and vice-versa, the Philippines can be reached only by plane or cruise ships.

So if we consider only airplane arrivals or take-offs, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) had few take-offs per day compared to other ASEAN airports except Ho Chi Minh (HCM) in pre-lockdown 2018. And many of these were domestic flights because we are an archipelago (see Table 1).

Another reason why we did not have many international visitors is that NAIA and other provincial airports are small and congested, because flight delays at NAIA (both arrival and take off) were common then. So there is an urgent need to expand and modernize the current NAIA — and also create new international airports near Metro Manila.

I checked the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center to see the status of various international airport development projects. Two projects have been awarded: the one in Bulacan by San Miguel, and the one in Clark by Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD). The Mactan Cebu IA (MCIA) passenger terminal 1 has been completed. A very important project, the NAIA expansion, is still under prolonged regulatory review (see Table 2).

We focus on NAIA expansion. The first group that was given Original Proponent Status (OPS) was a “super consortium” composed of seven big conglomerates — Aboitiz InfraCapital, Ayala Infrastructure, Alliance Global (Andrew Tan), Asia Emerging Dragon (Lucio Tan), Filinvest (Gotianun), JG Summit (Gokongwei), and Metro Pacific (Pangilinan). A really big and rich group.

But after two years, negotiations were not fruitful and the government terminated the OPS status of the “super consortium,” and last July, the Department of Transportation asked Megawide to submit an unsolicited proposal to modernize the NAIA complex which the latter accepted. Not long after, Megawide received OPS status from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

With the lockdowns and with few flights and few passengers using the airport until late 2020, this could have been a good time to start the project, but instead, Megawide has been awaiting approval by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) headed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Which will be followed by a Swiss challenge.

For various reasons, there have been campaigns, explicit and implicit, to delay if not kill the approval of NAIA rehabilitation and expansion. For what? To leave congested NAIA as it is for many years to come? Or to use more taxpayer money, including those from provinces and islands that do not even use NAIA? These are lousy alternatives since there is already an explicit desire by private corporations to spend their own money and resources to develop, expand, and modernize NAIA.

Passengers want more choices. The airlines too, and the restaurants and other businesses inside the airports. So, if we can have an expanded NAIA to use while the huge Bulacan airport is being constructed, plus the Sangley International Airport which is to be expanded and modernized by the Cavite provincial government and its partner corporations, plus the Clark Airport which is further expanding — these are all good. Good for the passengers and tourists, good for domestic and foreign investment, good for trade and commerce expansion.

The continued delay in the NAIA project approval and the Swiss challenge is not good. Not good for many lockdown-displaced jobless people who want more work opportunities, not good for Philippine tourism and investment promotion, not good for the overall economy.

NEDA ICC should not entertain the delay or kill the NAIA modernization project (which will not use taxpayers money). The failure of the “super consortium” to do the project was already bad for the country’s investment image. Delaying or killing this second chance will further worsen the situation.

See also:
BWorld 463, Senator Recto’s tax cut plan shadows Reagan, Thatcher, and Trump tax cuts, December 04, 2020 
BWorld 464, Meralco, QPPL and expensive solar-wind, December 05, 2020 
BWorld 465, Construction contraction and steel issues, December 13, 2020.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Covid 20, CDC PH livestream #2, PNP to arrest partying people

Last night, the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) produced its free-flowing discussion about Covid cases, deaths, early treatment, vaccines, herd immunity, economic contraction, the "great reset", etc.
Now this hysteria is not about the virus, it's about dictatorship. Arrest party goers and what, jail them and put in congested jails where social distancing is a joke?

The IATF and NTF, the DOH plus other agencies especially the Major General Colonel Quarantine (MGCQ -- officially, "Modified General Community Quarantine") officials, they can now make laws on their own and implement such? PNP arresting people -- fine them xx thousands or jail them if they cannot pay the fine -- for partying inside their houses or compound? Wow.
No need for
Congress legislation, no need even for a President's Executive Order (EO), this looks like decentralized dictatorship. -----------------
See also:
Covid 17, Hard lockdown Europe vs no lockdown Sweden, any difference in death trend? August 04, 2020 
Covid 18, Lockdowns don't work, articles from scientists and medical professionals, August 10, 2020 
Covid 19, HCQ, RDV and other politicized treatments, October 17, 2020.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

APTU meeting 2020

Later today, the Asia Pacific Taxpayers Union (APTU) will hold its Meeting 2020 via zoom. APTU is composed of taxpayers' organizations, advocates of low flat tax in the region. APTU holds a biennial meeting before. Photo below was during the APTU Meeting 2017 in Bangkok, also the World Taxpayers Association (WTA) regional meeting.

Important personalities above, front row: 2nd from left is Troy Lanigan of Canada Taxpayers Assn. as WTA President then. Middle in red pant is Bjorn Tarras-Wahlberg, founder and Past Pr esident of WTA, also Past President of Swedish Taxpayers Assn. Next to Bjorn are Mr. Kim Sun-Taek, President of the Korea Taxpayers Association (KTA), and Mr. Fengiang Liu, President of Beijing Taxpayers Assn.

Other participants were taxpayers groups from India, Nepal, Hong Kong, Thailand, S. Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, also the Americans for Tax Reforms (ATR), among the active members of WTA.

Below during the meeting proper, Bangkok 2017.

First time I attended the APTU meeting was in 2006 in Seoul, sponsored and organized by the KTA. Then when I attended the Atlas Liberty Forum in Atlanta, USA in 2008, there was a small side-meeting by the few APTU members who also attended the Atlas event. Then another small side-meeting during the 3rd Pacific Rim Policy Exchange in Singapore in 2009.

A day before the APTU meeting in 2017, I visited my good friend Pett Jarupaiboon at their FNF Regional Office in Bangkok. Cool guy.

APTU side meeting in Singapore in 2009, 3rd Pacific Rim Policy Exchange. With Mr. Kim (middle), lady beside him was his English translator, Jargal (Mongolia taxpayers group), and Ms. ____ of Grassroot Institute Hawaii. 

The last APTU side-meeting was during the 7th Australia Taxpayers Association (ATA) and WTA  conference in Sydney, May 2019. Below, I first met them in 2006 in Seoul. From left: Mr. Jaya Naidu of Australia taxpayers group, Bjorn, and Mr. Liu.


See also: 
APTU meeting in Bangkok, April 2011, April 28, 2011 
APTU meeting in Bangkok, part 2, May 05, 2011 
APTU Meeting in Bangkok, March 1-2, Jan. 22, 2013 
WTA meetings 2017 and 2019, April 08, 2020.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

BWorld 465, Construction contraction and steel issues

 * My article in BusinessWorld, December 8, 2020.

During the BusinessWorld Economic Forum with the theme “Forecast 2021: Reboot, Rethink, Reshape” which ran on Nov. 25-26, the government’s Build, Build, Build program and the construction sector as a path to post-COVID-19 economic recovery were among the topics highlighted. National Economic and Development Authority Director General Karl Chua and Ayala Corp. CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala had partly mentioned this.

Meanwhile, during the 9th Arangkada Philippines Forum 2020 with the theme “Foreign Investment in the Post-Pandemic Philippines” held last week (Dec. 1-3), large scale foreign investments of up to $50 billion in 10 years in various sectors including infrastructure, and the Build, Build, Build program were discussed and explored by the various speakers, particularly some of the heads of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (JFC) like head of US Chamber Peter Hayden and head of the Japan Chamber Keiichi Matsunaga.

I checked the performance of the construction sector and it turns out that it contracted -77% in floor area and -81% in value in the second quarter (Q2) 2020, worse than overall GDP contraction of -16.9% in the same period, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (see Table 1).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also released a survey of establishments 2018, the latest data available. From 2012 to 2018, the share of establishments in basic iron and steel have declined but their employment, total revenues, and output value have increased, meaning that on average there is higher productivity per company in the sector (see Table 2).

So that’s the good news — rising employment, rising productivity in the sector.

The bad news is that there is the issue of dirty production and unsafe steel in the country, partly because of steel smuggling but largely because of the transfer of many steel plants using the induction furnace (IF) technology which was banned by China in 2017. Banned in China, welcomed in the Philippines, not good as seemingly we are the dumping ground of industrial garbage from China.

Before 2016, about five IF plants existed in the country. By 2020 there were already 13. These IF plants’ capacity rose from 0.2 million MT to 1+ million MT/year.

The Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) says that the IF process “is a ‘hit-or-miss mechanism’ that has no refining process to remove impurities. As such, its output steel is inconsistent in terms of quality and could pose harm to users.”

The ASEAN Iron and Steel Council (AISC) called for the ban of IF in the region, saying the region has become a preferred destination for the “obsolete and unwanted equipment from China.” The Philippines and Indonesia are the big destinations of these IF plants while Vietnam has no more IFs from China since the latter banned the furnaces in 2017, according to the Vietnam Steel Association (See, Dec. 18, 2018).

The Philippine Induction Smelting Industry Association (PISIA), however, argues that IF steel is clean and safe.

In 2018, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) penalized five companies using IF for the alleged violation of the Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749). These were Melter Steel Corp., Real Steel Corp., Wan Chiong Steel Corp., Metro Dragon Steel Corp., and Davao Mighty Steel Corp. (See, Oct. 29, 2018).

The DENR and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have become strict when it comes to granting permits to new IF plants. But these plants get permits from local government units (LGUs) by under-claiming their production capacity as only 30,000 MT per year. If they declare higher than that figure, their application will go to the DENR and the vetting will be strict.

More competing steel plants selling more steel bars and other iron products are good for consumers — they will have more choices. But ordinary consumers, even many hardware stores, are not aware of the dangers of substandard steel products, or they may be aware but they cannot easily detect these products.

Every year the Philippines get big storms with strong winds, plus we also experience occasional strong earthquakes that can shake entire houses and buildings. Getting cheap steel bars will prove to be more expensive once houses and buildings experience big cracks if not collapse entirely. Conversely, getting higher price steel bars which can withstand strong winds and earthquakes will prove to be cheaper as they can save lives and property.

Given this situation, the DENR and DTI should make surprise inspections of IF plants that have only LGU permits, even old plants that got permits from them earlier. Once RA 8749 and other laws on product safety are violated, these plants should be closed and given a limited appeal period.

See also:
BWorld 462, Coal moratorium, climate and flooding, December 03, 2020 
BWorld 463, Senator Recto’s tax cut plan shadows Reagan, Thatcher, and Trump tax cuts, December 04, 2020 
BWorld 464, Meralco, QPPL and expensive solar-wind, December 05, 2020.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

China Watch 40, More on US-CN rivalry

My friend and fellow UPSE alumnus Bob Herrera-Lim co-wrote a new paper, 

The Broad Trends Shaping Asia
By Tobias Harris, Bob Herrera-Lim & Gabriel Wildau

I put here some parts of the paper in parenthesis then my short comments.

1. "U.S. fostered efforts... that emphasized free markets..."
I don't think this is the case in 8 yrs of Obama-Biden, especially in healthcare and energy, big government roles there under almost single-payer HC and anti-coal regulations by EPA, anti oil-gas fracking in many federal lands.

2. "Washington’s excessive focus on the Middle East and the global war on terror."
Trump tried to stop this, pull out all US troops from MidEast and Afghanistan but he's restricted by defense-arms industry mafia, others in the deep state.

3. "Trump’s... steel and aluminum tariffs..." 
We should review again tariff rates of countries before Trump. CN, EU, even JP have mean tariff rates that are 2-3x higher than US.

As I argued before, Trump challenged G7 countries in June 2018 to have "mutually zero tariff, zero subsidies trade" and they all got angry. When they were confronted with "mutually high tariff" they also got angry.

4. "withdrawal of some troops from South Korea..."
Not only in S. Korea but also in Germany, the base of US defense operations for Europe and Africa. Consistent with Trump policy to stop "endless wars" and many people got angry at him. They love endless wars.

5. "Most countries want the U.S. to continue to serve as a check against rising Chinese influence, both economically and militarily."
This is Trump strategy. Pull out of MidEast esp Iraq and Syria, get out of Afghanistan entirely, even Germany, and focus its military in SCS/WPS and Taiwan. Why, US has little business in Afghanistan or Syria Iraq. But it has thousands of container ships that pass through the SCS and being bullied by CN Navy is not good for their business. Explicit military defense of Taiwan is also good policy. Not sure if Biden will make the same policy on Taiwan.

Most of Bob’s paper I agree.

TDS (Trump derangement syndrome) people might argue that Trump sending aircraft carriers and battleships in SCS, explicit defense of TW, is the same as keeping US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. No, far out. In SCS, they are thousands of trips of US cargo ships delivering exports and imports yearly passing by SCS, and CN Navy can harass them as passing on "CN waters." This can be considered as CN initiating a military confrontation, sending battle ships vs ordinary cargo ships. The US Navy telling the CN Navy that this is international waters, not CN waters, their cargo ships can freely go there and if CN warships would harass those commercial ships, US Navy and Air Force will defend their cargo ships.

In Taiwan, there are thousands of US companies and banks there. No invasion of TW, no problem. CN invasion of TW, US shd defend TW and its companies there.

See also:
China Watch 37, US is winning the trade-IPR conflict with China, July 14, 2019
China Watch 38, China Army to attack HK protesters? August 13, 2019 
China Watch 39, Martin Jacques as CN propagandist, Sept. 12, 2019.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Drug Price Control 51, Pharma efficiency and lower drug prices

I reviewed again two reports (below) featuring LKI and my friend Vic Dimagiba. I think Vic – and many other NGOs – may be confused as consumer advocates. The main “vested interest” of consumers is more choices. Like there is a P10 coffee in a carinderia, P20 coffee in 711 and MiniStop, P150 to P250 coffee in Starbucks or CBTL, etc. It is not the desire of consumers that the P150 coffee be price-controlled by DTI or LGUs to become P50 or P20 so that it becomes “affordable” for the masa. No. Consumers have other desires and interests why they chose the P150+ coffee, like being in a business meeting that can possibly give them thousands of pesos in extra income.

The same for medicines. The main interest of patients and their families is to avoid sickness, and to get well fast when they get sick. An “expensive” medicine but can hasten recovery so that the person can quickly go back to work and earn more is actually cheap. While a “cheap” or even “free” medicine but is less effective in quick recovery is actually expensive because it does not help the person to go back to work earlier.

Getting “cheap” medicine per se is often the goal of people and NGOs wanting to be in the news often, disconnected from the real needs of various patients with various priorities in life.

Meanwhile, I got this data from the Phil. Statistics Authority (PSA), Survey of Establishments in Manufacturing 2018, the latest survey available. It shows here that the number of pharma manufacturers have declined (-5.6%) from 2012 to 2018, should be a result of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or smaller companies going bankrupt with endless price intervention by the DOH. But overall revenues have increased 27%, employment increased 3.4%, output value increased 41.5%.

This means that the remaining or surviving manufacturers have become more efficient to produce more output from less input. Such increase in efficiency results in lower prices overall. I have gum infection a month ago, my dentist gave me pain reliever on top of antibiotics Augmentin. The branded pain reliever was P31/tablet at Mercury, I bought few. The pain continued after 2 or 3 days, I went to TGP and asked for the generic drug, the lady gave me a P1/tablet but about half the mg of the tablet from Mercury. Still very cheap, I shook my head in disbelief and happiness.

Transparency in bidding pushed 
October 13, 2020 

Vic Dimagiba, convenor of the Laban Konsyumer Inc. in a statement made this call as the Department of Health (DOH ), the Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) are crafting a joint administrative order (JAO) setting the guidelines on price negotiation under the planned consolidated single-sourced procurement of medicines and devices….

According to Dimagiba, PCC has a key role to play in ensuring the pharmaceutical industry, as the proponents of the the bulk procurement, do not manipulate the outcome of a bidding process through collusion.

LKI wants higher retail price cuts of medicines 
Published November 23, 2020, 7:00 AM
by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

“Consumer advocacy group LKI said there is not much difference between the proposed retail prices versus the prevailing retail prices of these medicines.

“We have been paying for many years grossly overpriced medicines whether with patent or off patent,” said LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba.”

See also:
Drug Price Control 48, DOH orientation on MWP, MRP, June 30, 2020 
Drug Price Control 49, The FEF statement, July 24, 2020 
Drug Price Control 50, Wallace, Clarete and LKI, August 08, 2020.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

BWorld 464, Meralco, QPPL and expensive solar-wind

BusinessWorld November 30, 2020.

In the ongoing woke culture, demonizing fossil fuels and some big corporations while glorifying big government intervention are very common. The lobby against fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) is based on a confused and irrational belief that fossil fuels, especially coal, cause less rain and more rain, less floods and more floods, less cold and more cold. The lobby against some big corporations is driven by envy and the socialist dream of forced equality.

For many years now there have been sustained attacks against coal power in the country and the world. Then, in recent months, these attacks targeted new and proposed 3,000+ MW coal power contracts by Meralco, the biggest electricity distributor in the Philippines.

Last week, it became an even more focused attack on Meralco by using its Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the coal plant Quezon Power Phils. Ltd. Co. (QPPL). The attacks came from the Bayan Muna (BM, which I sometimes call Bayaan Mo Na) Party-list in Congress.

Among the accusations they hauled against Meralco-QPPL are: 1.) overcharging of P2.53/kwh or P4B from January to September 2020; 2.) implying that the PPA is recent and not approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC); and, 3.) that Meralco is self-dealing and getting its power supply from the gencos it controls. QPPL owner Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO) of Thailand is a partner of Meralco in San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co. (SBPLC), another coal plant.

I got interested in these accusations so I checked some numbers, particularly Meralco’s composite generation charge from its various power plant suppliers, using the latest data from the November 2020 billing then going backwards every six months until November 2017. Here is what I discovered.

One, the QPPL share is only about 9% of Meralco’s total power purchase. Two, while QPPL prices are generally higher than the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) prices and overall generation charge, there are months and years where QPPL’s prices are lower, like in May 2018 and May 2019. Three, despite big oil-coal tax hikes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law of 2017 that pushed upwards the cost of oil-based and coal plants, the generation charge has been declining in 2019 and 2020 (see Table 1).

Meralco’s biggest PPAs are the First Gen Power Corp. (FGPC) Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo plants in Batangas. These two plants alone supply about 33% or one third of the total power purchase by Meralco.

So the BM “study” is twisted to produce two false assertions.

One, that there is overcharging because the PPA of QPPL-Meralco is a sweetheart deal — wrong. The PPA was approved by the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB), the precursor of ERC, way back in 1995 or even before the EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) of 2001. No PPA or power supply agreement (PSA) by Meralco and all other private distribution utilities, past and present, can proceed without public hearings and ERC approval.

Two, that QPPL is an indirect affiliate of Meralco and there is self-dealing — wrong. QPPL is 100% owned by Thailand’s Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd.

The anti-coal, pro-renewable energy lobby still denies that solar-wind is “viable” only because of huge subsidies that are passed on to the consumers. Countries with the highest electricity prices in the world — Germany and Denmark — as shown in the Strom-Report 2020, also have the highest concentration of wind and solar generation (see Table 2).

Bulgaria does not believe in solar-wind mis-promises — its power generation largely comes from coal (in 2019, 0.21 Exajoules EJ or 58.3 TWH) and nuclear (16.6 TWH). And Bulgaria has the cheapest electricity in Europe.

During the BusinessWorld Economic Forum last week, attracting more investments including those that are exiting China was among the topics discussed. It was partly mentioned by National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Karl Chua and ADB’s Philippines Country Representative Kelly Bird.

Vietnam fully understands the value of high power supply from cheap and reliable sources. When it comes to power generation, Vietnam (producing 57.9 TWH) overtook the Philippines in 2006, it overtook Malaysia in 2015 (producing 157.9 TWH), and it overtook Thailand in 2017 (producing 191.6 TWH). And in 2019, Vietnam’s coal consumption of 2.07 EJ was nearly three times that of the Philippines’ 0.73 EJ.

Many self-styled greenie and socialist-leaning organizations like BM are inconsistent in their anti-fossil fuel lobby because they only demonize coal plants, but not gas plants or even diesel plants. It seems that the game plan here is to kill only new big coal plants so that gas plants — which will soon rely on imported LNG when Malampaya gas becomes depleted — will be given priority in the PPAs and PSAs of distribution utilities.

Complementary to rising power supply capacity should be transmission system expansion. Power generation has been deregulated and demonopolized, power distribution also demonopolized via retail competition and open access (RCOA) and many competing retail electricity suppliers (RES). Power transmission remains the only national monopoly, the biggest elephant in the room and where the biggest inefficiencies are hiding.

See also:
BWorld 461, GDP contraction, CDC PH, and medicine taxes, November 30, 2020 
BWorld 462, Coal moratorium, climate and flooding, December 03, 2020 
BWorld 463, Senator Recto’s tax cut plan shadows Reagan, Thatcher, and Trump tax cuts, December 04, 2020.

Jayant Bhandari on the US elections

As usual, I enjoy the frank analysis of my Indian-Canadian friend Jayant Bhandari, I am reposting his FB posts here -- about the recent US elections, the woke culture, US immigration, related topics. Enjoy. 

Nov. 2.

The biggest contribution Trump has made to the West is in bringing an awakening in some people that they do not have to wallow in political correctness. Now, you can blame him for not stopping the fiat currency printing press. Unfortunately, the system runs on the Keynesian drug. Had he stopped sending welfare checks, tens of millions of people would have come to the street and thrown him out in no time. That is the problem of government welfare programs—once started, it is virtually impossible to pull out. I do blame him for fueling the fire of conspiracy theories—Obama’s birth certificate, high-profile American pedophile ring, QAnon, Alex Jones, etc. But then, in a democracy, if you want to change the system, you still have to win. Someone not living in his intellectual ivory tower has only one option: to weigh the pros and cons of having Trump vs. Biden. And the chasm is so huge that for me, Trump is a no-brainer.

On MMT, you cannot generate wealth by printing money. MMT is a childish game that those who have no contact with reality have concocted.

Nov. 4.

Some of the most na├»ve, leftist bobos in the western world are the IT people, particularly in California. Why? This sector has the highest concentration of mom’s kids coming from abroad—these kids didn’t understand how the world works except that they were trained to be IT coolies. Given the higher proportion of these colored “kids” in the sector, political correctness is rampant, creating a feedback cycle. I wonder if IT makes people simplistic, for they work on a small part of the whole. Any other reason?

Nov. 5

Rich people have put BLM/Biden signs hoping it would stop their houses from getting destroyed. And they go out to vote for the left. A majority of billionaires side with Biden. They fail to connect the dots, see the simple causality. If Trump wins, there will be riots. If he loses, there will be more riots as the left starts eating itself away. This is what happens when the intellectual spine of society becomes irrational.

A place on this Earth which will be good in the future is East Asia. That said, my respect for Trump grows every day. He is fighting a good fight.

When people have to face direct consequences of their actions, they are perfectly happy choosing between the bad and the worse. They do not wait for the perfect but impossible thing to appear and then end up with worse. But when they do not have to face the consequences of their actions individually, they take a so-called ideological higher moral ground. About 1.1% of the total US votes went to Jo of the Libertarian Party. Had these voters been more practical, they would have voted for Trump, for by voting for Jo, they, ironically, enabled a worse candidate (Biden) to improve his ranking--they "chose" the worse by not voting for the bad. Moreover, those who idealistically voted for Jo failed to look at her ideas. By opening up the border, she would destroy the US faster than Biden.

Nov. 8.

Even for Democrats, Biden/Harris are nobodies, with no ideas of their own. As populism and demagoguery rachets up in a democracy, the top positions start going to those who will not rock the boat or challenge anyone, the Tooheys, who fit in. Trump was an aberration and the US will regret losing him.

Nov. 9

There is a childish opinion among some libertarians that you should allow free immigration but get rid of the welfare system. It is as if you can rid of the welfare system using a magic wand. Of course, such people are not practical, who fool themselves and others by sounding libertarian while doing leftist virtue-signaling. In reality, the welfare system is virtually impossible to dismantle. And by bringing in more people while you devise a way to dismantle it, you will only make dismantling it more difficult. Of course, these culturally blank-slate libertarians fail to understand that you might want to restrict immigration for cultural reasons.

Without Trump in power, the Democratic Party will fall apart. While they have been in unison of their hatred for those on the right and particularly Trump, their internal division is wider. Within the democrats, there is a radical left (BLM, AOC, etc.) and the moderate left (the stupid, but financially successful bobos living in California, etc.). What the latter will soon realize is that the former hates and envies them far more than they dislike those on the right (who are usually not rich).

Nov. 10.

A great contribution Trump has made is to show how biased and leftist the media is. Without any authority, they have called Biden/Harris elected to the office. Of course, these two nobodies have accepted the media's verdict. The media isn't going to talk about it, but it is not unlikely that Trump might end up winning. The betting sites give Trump a 10% chance. And Trump wasn't going to fight unless he knew he would win.

Nov. 11

While there are all kinds of factors behind who votes for who, proximally, it is the coastal, urban, and educated people who tend to vote for the left. Having taken a quick look at the county level voting pattern, it seems that there is a direct correlation between the higher proportion of white men and votes for Trump. The exceptions are Colorado, NH, and Vermont, which despite having a higher proportion of white men, tend to go left, perhaps because the hippiest white people live in these states.

Nov. 15

Pompeo is a genius, has helped create some peace in the Middle East and earned the world’s respect for the US. Trump is often ridiculed in the media for having changed so many people in his administration. Those who mock him have likely never put an organization into place, let alone when trying to change a gigantic organization like the US's government. Finding good and competent people is not easy. Getting rid of less good people has increasingly left him with competent ones, like Pompeo.

Nov. 16

Biden is following the example set by Trudeau: installing people in senior positions not based on competencies but because of their physical characteristics. The end result: women and colored people will be--even when they are not--automatically assumed to be incompetent. Apart from degrading institutions, affirmative policy leads to an increase in racism and sexism.

Nov. 19

As the US pulls out of Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq, these hellholes are disintegrating. And that is all for good. When they fight among themselves, they keep their population levels to what their culture allows for and stay focused inwards rather than on the West. But what about women's rights, education, and the other good stuff? The West has been trying to do good things for 300 years with no success and worse suicidal consequences. Even the immigrants from these hellholes stay fanatic or become radical leftists.

Pompeo and Trump both deserve three Nobel prizes each for having got recognition for Isreal in Sudan, UAE, and Bahrain. And the Middle East hasn't been this peaceful in years.

Nov. 21

Only 31% of the votes in Canada go to the Conservatives. The rest get split among several parties on the left. I wonder if the same is coming to the US. Would the Democrats break-up before 2024? If it does, it might offer Republicans to return, giving the US a chance for a slow decay rather than a rapid one. But as with Canada, with most people being on the left, it is hard for even a right-wing government not to be left-tilting.

Nov. 22.

The urge to rule over others is one of the most corrupt human cravings. In the woke world, however, instead of children being told to reign in on such cravings, they are encouraged to have them.

When society raises girls to have high ambitions without asking them to develop competencies, it merely raises them to provide sexual services. And then it worries that people of competencies do not give any value to those like Harris.

Nov. 25

Adam Smith called his first book, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." Indeed, most of economics is about common sense and moral values. Radical leftism is a product of unhinging the psyche from any moral moorings—leaving the sole purpose of leftists' lives hedonism and materialism. It is only such people who can with a straight face ask for free-stuff as a right.

Those who took the so-called higher moral ground to show off by not voting for Trump have no reason to complain if they get what is in this video. Those who fail to differentiate between a lesser evil from a worse evil have to content with what is coming: a worse evil. Idealism is wonderful as a yardstick, but in real life, one must always choose between the bad and the worse—if you disagree, tell me when you don’t.

What does Biden believe? We still don’t know

Dec. 1.

Trudeau has been an unmitigated disaster for Canada. Growing up in an extremely protected environment, made worse by drugs he consumed, this ex-drama teacher hasn't a clue how the world works. He has an opinion on Indian farmers based on the Khalistani terrorists, who are the only Indians he knows, tell him. And, no, Canada does not allow peaceful protests. Try protesting in Canada, and the police will arrest you. They allow protests only when a gang of rowdies descent on the streets.

Dec. 3

The US is well on its way to having a third party. This third-party won't be based on Swedish socialism (which for all its flaws comes from compassion) or even Russian communism (which at least had some ideals however simplistic). The new party will be a give-me-free-stuff party akin to what you see in Latin America or worse in Africa. It will in fact be worse for the process in LA and Africa cleanses their leadership of spinelessness. This party will have thoroughbred morons, fanatics, spineless people, feminists, and desperate to get laid male-feminists.

Dec. 4.

Westerners should stop reading Orwell. By reading 1984, they misinterpret what is happening in the West. 1984 happened in China, USSR, and the Third World, but it isn't happening in the West. West is facing a Hauxilian (Aldoux Huxley's) revolution, where people are being told to comply by making them hedonistic, and dependent. Hauxilianism, radical leftism of the kind of AOC is being tried for the first time in human history.

See also other reposts of Jayant's ideas: 
Pol. Ideology 64, Big World Government or Smaller Countries and Governments? June 03, 2015 
Jayant Bhandari on Democracy, Trump and Soleimani, June 04, 2020 
Jayant Bhandari on the recent US riots, June 14, 2020.