Today's Punto
Today's Punto
By Bong Lacson

Aug 15, 2013

NOT ONLY does it overbrim the Capitol coffers but the quarry industry drives Pampanga’s very economy, virtually the single, greatest contributing factor to its high liquidity.

That is, if Engr. Art Punsalan, the provincial government environment and natural resources and focal person of the quarry operations, is to be believed.

That is, if the local papers – not Punto – that reported Punsalan’s statements got them accurately. 

“More or less on our estimate, P25 million per day is being contributed by the quarry industry to various stakeholders. That is considering we have 3,500 trucks hauling our quarry materials to different points in Luzon and Pampanga.” So was Punsalan quoted as declaring.

A whopping P25 million a day, produced by 3,500 trucks. Culled from the news reports and broken down here to simplify, thus:

P14 million for the P4,000 cost of diesel per truck.

P2.8 million for wages of one driver and one helper (@P800 combined) per truck.

P700,000 in meals spent by drivers and helpers (@P200 for both)

P350,000 in compensation to “hustlers” (@P100/truck) who guide the trucks to the quarry sites.

P350,000 in maintenance (@ a minimum of P100/truck).

P1.6 million in toll charges.

P700,000 in “passway fees.”

P480,000 wages of four helpers at each of the 80 quarry sites (@P1,500/pax)  per
P2.1 million daily cost of living of the families (@P300 each) of the 7,000 truck drivers and helpers (@2 pax/truck).

Adding up – short of P25 million there, but still a whopping P23.08 million a day. 

Notwithstanding the double entry on the truck drivers and helpers’ wages and the daily cost of living of their families, the latter sourced from the former.

P23.08 million a day. Mind-boggling. Easily translating to – oh, God how could my handy calculator contain all those zeros? – P8,424,200,000 a year. Eight billion, four hundred twenty four million, two hundred thousand pesos. Just saying it makes one gasp, in breathless disbelief. Dizzying.

Why, that’s five times the P1.7-billion budget of the Province of Pampanga for 2013!

“Engineered economics.” So one smartass who looked like Zaldy Ampatuan’s media clone called Punsalan’s account, as much referencing on the guy’s schooling as in the figures’ deconstruction.

Even granting that the figures actually obtained, there is no absolute certainty that they circulated in the local economy, he says.

For instance, the pump price of diesel the trucks pay is shared by the local gas stations with their suppliers which offices are usually Manila-based. And then, the trucks gas up as much in Pampanga as in the metropolis where they take their cargo. 

The toll charges are remitted to the tollways central office, again located in Metro Manila.

As not all truckers are Pampanga-based, it follows that truck maintenance is not all undertaken in the province.
Similarly, not all truck drivers and their pahinantes live in Pampanga. And therefore not all their wages are funnelled back to the local economy.

Still, I would indulge Punsalan for his infectious enthusiasm: “The ripple effect is really encompassing, if you take a careful look at it.”

Though, one local economist who looked a bit like the erudite Jun Sula of Sun-Star Pampanga told me he already got the eyes of Deng Pangilinan, the double visionary of Mabalacat City, but still could not see, much less feel the ripple effect Punsalan said quarry operations had on the Pampanga economy “outside of the increase in the provincial treasury.”

He says it is in shopping malls that the vibrancy of the provincial economy is most felt. And judging by the demeanor of the mallgoers, the quarry industry makes the least, if any contribution, there.

Balikbayans and vacationing OFWs and their families, yuppies and employees, self-employed and professionals, officials, retirees with disposable incomes, students with savings from their allowances make the most visible shoppers as well as hangers-on at the malls.   

So how did he take Punsalan’s statement then that: “So many stakeholders are able to send their children to school, live sufficiently daily and even get proper healthcare.”

True. Insofar as the quarry operators and truckers are concerned.

False. When it comes to the truck drivers, helpers and the hustlers.

No economics of scale, just scaled down economies there. No ripple effect but ripped results.  
Said he. Not me.

No need to wonder now why Punto did not carry the story, headlined “Quarrying contributes P25-M to local economy” in Headline Gitnang Luzon  and “Pampanga earns P25M per day from quarry operations” in Sun-Star Pampanga.

No, we were not scooped. Our ace reporter Ashley Manabat covered Punsalan at the Capitol dialog with quarry operators much longer than any other newsman there.

It’s just that Ashley had the nose for hard news that sneezes at fanciful fiction.

P25 million in circulation daily in Pampanga from the quarry operations alone.   That’s no simple liquidity, that’s a tsunami of hard cash that would have long drowned the Kapampangans in wealth.

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