Carvajal: Development 101

·2 min read

IN my Dec. 22 column that Typhoon Odette prevented from being published, I wished Cebu City officials would gift Carbon vendors a solemn promise to rescind their Joint Venture Agreement(JVA) with Megawide. That wish grew out of my conviction that privatizing the Carbon Public Market and developing it physically into a world-class facility is anti-social development and not the other way around as signatories and defenders of the JVA want us to believe.

In any case, I hope Typhoon Odette has rendered the JVA moot and completely out of the question. What Odette’s widespread devastation demands is for Cebu City to rehabilitate (jerry-rig?) Carbon market post-haste so vendors can resume selling prime commodities and basic supplies to a physically deprived public.

Social development is not defined by the size and modernity of the buildings and facilities of a place. At the core, it is about improving the well-being of all members of society by helping them become self-sufficient in reaching their full potential as human beings and as equals.

The foundations of social development are good health, good education, and skills training for getting a job with a decent (living?) wage. Government exists principally to provide structures that enable every citizen to have the above foundations. (Please note the difference between good education and skills training, neither of which is universally available in the country.)

Thus, the alternative physical development plan of the vendors and their concomitant proposal to manage the operations of Carbon market (through an umbrella organization or federation of vendor associations or cooperatives) are telling indicators of the vendors’ growing self-sufficiency. Without Megawide but with the City’s help, they are confident they have what it takes to develop Carbon by themselves.

What then can be more socially developmental than for City Hall to encourage vendors and help them along their new-found path of self-sufficiency. Besides, there is for the City the added advantage that better financial returns are calculated (by qualified finance experts) to accrue to the City from the vendors’ alternative plan than from their JVA with Megawide.

In the Philippine setting, social development essentially means the eradication, at least the minimization, of physical poverty, education poverty, skills poverty and health poverty–the four poverties that afflict close to 50 percent of the population and that Typhoon Odette just showcased with cruel and stark clarity. Privatizing Carbon and ceding its management to Megawide will instead increase the physical, education, skills and health poverties of small vendors. It is not development. Rescinding the JVA and helping Carbon vendors become self-sufficient in developing and managing their workplace is.

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