Monday, November 17, 2014

Frustrated with the government of the Philippines

Somedays I feel so frustrated dealing with the governmental institutions in the Philippines. They seem so arbitrary and unreasonable. They allow corruption and then treat everyone doing business as if they are criminals. They pass laws to "protect" workers and end up hurting them. Once a law is passed, no one seems to have the sense to say "this was a bad law, let's rescind it. Instead they pass new laws on top of it and make matters worse. Years ago they passed a law saying that workers after 6 months under contract should receive such and such benefits. Now so many companies won't give contracts to people for more than 5 months 29 days. People change jobs every 6 months. How is that helpful? It may sound good, but if it doesn't work, rescind it. The objectives are often good, but the methods backfire.

I can fly from Manila to Tuguegerao in 50 mins., but a bus ride takes 14 hours. If a farmer wants to ship his crop to Manila from Cagayan Valley how long and how much will it cost him? Why doesn't the government invest in a good highway or rail system? They praise the OFWs as the heros of the nation, but what are they doing with the money they send home and the taxes they pay? Instead of over regulation the government should make sure there is clean water, good roads, a rail system for commerce, etc.

Now it is said that the former Labor Attache in HK gave out 70 new agency licenses over the last few years. Everyone presumes he did it for money, and he is under investigation. Eight years ago when we opened Arrow we couldn't get a license, but rather had to purchase another agency and then go through the all the procedures to change the name to Arrow. It was a lot of trouble. By far the biggest difficulty has been dealing with the changing regulatory rules in the Philippines. It doesn't feel safe to do business there.

I'm a businessman. Tell me the rules, enforce them fairly for everyone and then I can do what it takes to win the game, but if you don't enforce the rules, or change the rules in the middle of the game, then good businesses will take their companies to a more stable place. This is exactly what has happened to the Philippines. Companies set up in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan instead of the Philippines. They would rather set up in the Philippines because there is a good hardworking English speaking workforce there, but the government is anti-business, so they go other places.

Psalm 11.3 says "When the foundations are destroyed, what can the godly accomplish?”

We pray for President Aquino and hope that he will win the fight against corruption, but somedays, like today, I feel rather hopeless.

Psalm 11 ends like this: "Certainly the Lord is just; he rewards godly deeds; the upright will experience his favor."

Doing business in the Philippines is a struggle, but God is good and we have experienced his undeserved favor for 8 years. I'm grateful for that.