MANILA - The Philippines' lack of sense of urgency is the main reason for the government's perennial problems of inefficiency and corruption, according to a former socioeconomic official.
In his new book "Virtuous Impatience," former Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the government's sluggish approach continues to restrict the country's economic growth potential.
"The title of the book harks back to my early growing years, which is not too long ago under my parents' tutelage. Both were sticklers for punctuality and getting things done 'ora mismo', or the simple mantra, 'what you can do today, do not wait for tomorrow'," he shared during the book's launch on Wednesday.
Pernia said the Philippines has been a laggard among its peers in the region, as seen in its fight against COVID-19 compared to countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and South Korea.
He noted this sense of urgency or virtuous impatience "is a scarce commodity in our country and society."
The patience of Filipinos without complaints "puts our country in a vicious cycle setting it back, rather than sustainably putting the country forward," he said.
The book enumerated delayed projects and implementation of policies by the government, seeking to draw learnings from them.
He cited that the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of May 2018 has yet to make an impact in cutting red tape in government transactions.
Through the book, Filipinos are urged "to call out the country leaders to task, and demand pertinent actions and results from the authorities."
Pernia also called on the country to expedite pushing for better social and fiscal infrastructure, human capital development, the passage of key bills, and the elimination of graft and corruption.
Pernia resigned from his government post in April at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing personal reasons and partly differences in development philosophy with some of his colleagues in the Cabinet.