Under such a state, a sharing economy is shaping up more and more not because it is mandated by government, but because such innovation has been adopted and patronized by consumers themselves.
Note: This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on July 21, 2020.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has changed all paradigms in the world, whether psychosocial, economic, health or public order and safety, among others. In the process, we have what everyone keeps saying is the “new norm.” When you say new norm, all rules are thrown out and regulatory policies are yet to be defined and we have the opportunity to redo things and have a resilient and buoyant economy to break out from the pandemic.
Under such a state, a sharing economy is shaping up more and more not because it is mandated by government, but because such innovation has been adopted and patronized by consumers themselves. Filipinos are so used to bartering that it has been with us in the early stages of our development as a nation, whether domestically or through trade routes of yesteryears.
“A sharing economy is an economic principle that is constantly evolving. In the very simplest terms, it’s the use of technology to facilitate the exchanged access of goods or services between two or more parties. It is derived from the notion that mutual parties can share value from an under-utilized skill or asset. This value exchange occurs through a shared marketplace, collaborative platform or peer-to-peer application.”
The sharing model isn’t a new concept — as many rural communities thrived off the same idea via barter. It has been a lot easier with accessibility of the internet and mobile technology, managing share-based transactions. While most commonly referred to as the sharing economy, this term is an umbrella that encompasses other economic systems such as collaborative economy/collaborative consumption, peer-to-peer economy, freelancing/gig economy, crowdfunding/crowdsourcing and coworking/cobranding.
Popular examples of shared economy are Uber, AirBnB, eBay, Upwork and Doctor on Demand. Others are Neighbor (storage sharing), Rover (pet care sharing), Turo (booking an entire vehicle and driving it), Just Park (parking space sharing), TaskRabbit (freelancing services), Lending Club, Poshmark (peer-to-peer clothing marketplace) and SitterCity (online caregiving), among others. Homegrown services are also taking off such as Jojo, GoodMealHunting, Sulit, LalaMove, Lazada, etc.
Indeed, even before Covid-19, disruption has been a persistent game changer in economies. “The lack of overhead and inventory help share-based businesses to run lean.
The increased efficiencies allow these brands to pass-through value to their customers and supply chain partners. Traditional industries are being affected by the sharing economy — and many traditional brands struggle if they do not adapt to the changing landscape.” As we become more digitally connected, the sharing economy will continue to evolve and be the primary driver for economic recovery.
The new norm is also dictating how governance will be in the next two years, said to be the time when a vaccine will be made available in the market. Public service cannot stop because of Covid-19. National and local governments need to evolve on a daily basis to respond to the challenges of governing. More local governments are discovering online platforms, shying away from archaic, silos approaches to rendering public service. Today, the constituents are kings and queens. If elected leaders do not react to this push now, any digital campaign near the Election Day will be useless.
This is where a so-called Well-being Budget (WBB) becomes vital as we evolve in the new norm. This is not new with New Zealand, leading the way in December 2018. “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued this call to New Zealand’s people and their leaders as she announced that the upcoming 2019 budget would attempt to align the country’s budget with a planning and policy approach built explicitly around indicators of critical components of social, economic, and environmental well-being and sustainability. New Zealand’s Living Standards Framework (LSF) — a key element of this approach — was over a decade in the making and is one visible marker of an ongoing but important shift from the country’s previous approach to economic management and governance that was largely focused on measures of economic growth and enhancing government efficiency.”
The concept of a WBB came to fore because of “increasing levels of inequality, persistent pockets of poverty, and worsening threats of environmental breakdown. It is within this context that many countries around the world were experiencing growing discontent, loss of faith in democratic institutions, and political upheaval.” Globally, the response to these challenges are such initiatives as “Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement that are intended to reverse course in order to build more equitable, just and sustainable societies for the benefit of present and future generations. Governments are now faced with translating these lofty goals and commitments into concrete plans and policies.” And then Covid-19 came like a thief in the night, greatly pushing for new ways, differing frameworks on development and equity issues.
Public finances are at the heart of these nuances because of Covid- 19. “Governments’ decisions about whom or what to tax and who will benefit from public spending impact people’s incomes and well-being and to a great extent determine whether a society will be more equal or remain divided and whether people, including the disadvantaged, will have real opportunities for a better life.” Covid-19 grants governments the chance to reform budget systems and practices, as well as hold governments accountable in the process of allocation.
The country has the chance to complete the transition to a universal health care set-up, putting order to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and mandating each of the 81 provinces to put in their money for the development of public health in their localities. Apart from health, education is another area experiencing disruption and confronting it head-on would reboot the sector to produce graduates needed in Industry 4.0. The other sector that will experience a tsunami-like problem is that of housing.
Without housing, people will forever be exacting much more from limited resources. By ensuring every Filipino has a home, health and education are easier dealt with because we can put the data and scale up in terms of providing for the needs of the marginalized Filipino. Part of providing homes to Filipinos is by treating them more like all others and not just being part of the marginalized population that needs tokenism as a public program.
This has to stop if we are to rebuild this nation because tokenism is a palliative, it does not solve age-old problems that continue to fester generation after generation.
Covid-19 allows us that singular chance to shift the focus from growth to well-being. When New Zealand tried to move toward a governance approach that “explicitly put intergenerational well-being of all people at the center, the government needed to identify the factors that contribute to well-being and the measures that would enable it to monitor progress.” The New Zealand Treasury had developed the LSF over the preceding decade and when the current government called for a WBB for 2019, it placed the LSF at the core of the process. The LSF brought together “12 ‘domains’ considered important for current well-being and four ‘capitals’ seen as affecting future well-being. It identified a stock of capital required for well-being now and into the future, and is continuously monitoring how changes in the various domains contribute to an increase or reduction of capital stocks.”
The 12 domains are essentially distributive governance while the so-called capitals revolve around risk and resiliency of the nation on national, social, human and financial and physical.
We have the unique chance in the next two years to evolve differently and do what we need to do generationally. Let us not waste the time to build on these opportunities and make the nation resilient and remain strong in the new norm.
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