Thursday, September 01, 2005

Policy Package That Isn't

The President announced yesterday an "economic policy package" to deal with the "likely economic crises". (It is so strange: I can't find any online news covering the package in its entirety!). To me, this package is not a package. It's a sermon -- a bad sermon. There's nothing specific in it. Nothing verifiable. In short, it's nothing. The President shouldn't waste his time and ours waiting for such crap announced.

Had SBY been more responsive, he should have announced instead:
1. When exactly he would eliminate the fuel subsidy, and what is the magnitude (numbers, please!). That is, what are the prices he would set for fuel and other derivatives.
2. When exactly he would fire his underperforming ministers.

About fuel price. I would suggest no more administered prices. Let the market decides. Invite competition from abroad. That will release the burden on the budget. Yes, there will be social resistance. Face it. It will be inflationary, yes -- for shorter run than worried, for smaller degree than imagined. The inflationary spiral will go first to rice price. Yes, but it can be curbed by removing the import restriction.

As for the number two, I tolerate some gestation period, as long as there's a definite date when the decision will be announced. A note however, all this complain about "businessmen should not be in the politics" is ridiculous. Why shouldn't businessmen have the same rights as other citizens? My problem is more on whether or not the businessmen who are now in the administration are the right businessmen. I think they are not. Fire them.

Approaching his one year in the administration, SBY so far has been extremely undecisive. It's time now to do something real. Even though I'm not too pessimistic (as in "we're having crisis"), a strong determination from number one leader is a must to calm the market.

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