The difference between a “white lie” and an outright falsehood is this: the level of the sin of omission employed to make statements or revelations sweeter than it actually tastes.
Recently, reports pointed to a significant drop in consumer confidence due to, among other things, the rise in prices of basic commodities and political noise.
It dropped, as foretold, to its bottommost level in nearly four years, prompting experts to blame inflation and the seemingly uncontrolled rise in consumer prices.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) was straightforward in its statement, saying in one report that “consumers were bearish due to the rising prices of basic goods, higher household expenses, political concerns, especially over the Disbursement Acceleration Program [DAP and the Priority Development Assistance Fund, as well as uncertainties over income, job opportunities and the business environment, in general.”
To ease the aforementioned dip, the BSP backtracked a bit, and said that all is not as bad as it seems. Two other industries posted higher-than-average confidence levels—real estate and sale of motor vehicles.
The problem with such a statement is that it does not involve the ordinary Juan de la Cruz. It was as if the BSP was clinging on straws, justifying the “confidence” in real estate and sale of motor vehicles as everyman’s purchasing power.
The problem is that is not the case here. Only a handful of the 100 million of our population actually are involved in the purchase of land and vehicles. The average, everyday Juan de la Cruz is more concerned about food on the table, basic expenses that include water supply, household needs and educational requirements.
Regular consumers do not worry themselves about whether they have bought the latest car model or have fenced a sizable cut of real estate. They, however, worry about the cost of fuel, cooking gas, medicines, rice, meat, vegetables and other survival expenses.
If consumer confidence is largely defined by the purchase of real estate and motor vehicles, then it only goes to prove that a meager 1 percent to 10 percent of the population carries with them that confidence. The rest of the 90 percent wallows in pessimism, and an altogether factual, tangible problem.
The government must learn that there are things better left unsaid—if such were meant to fool the public. Any attempt may lead to serious cases of slump in confidence that has nothing to do with cost but trust.
Image credits: Jimbo Albano