[OPINION] Faster than average

SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 11, 2017 – 12:00am

The actual numbers are still high: 67 percent satisfied, and 73 percent with “much trust” in President Duterte.

Since pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) started taking surveys when Corazon Aquino was in power, all presidents have seen their ratings slide, with the initial high score never regained.

So Duterte need not be overly concerned. The fall in his satisfaction and trust ratings was just a matter of time.

What should bother him is the sharpness of the fall. The satisfaction rating plunged from 78 percent in the second quarter to 67 percent in the next three months, and trust from 82 to 73 percent – a decline that SWS president Mahar Mangahas described as “a little faster than average.”

The fall is steeper in net figures, or the number of satisfied against the dissatisfied: 48 percent, down from 66. The net trust rating also fell sharply, from 75 percent to 60. If Duterte continues to suffer a double-digit drop in every quarterly survey, his numbers could fall below zero in less than two years.

As Mangahas pointed out, Noynoy Aquino enjoyed the longest “honeymoon period” among the post-EDSA presidents, enjoying good ratings for over three years, with the numbers falling only after the slaughter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos also did better than Duterte but Joseph Estrada fared worse.

Mangahas said Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not enjoy a honeymoon period. This should be reassuring for Duterte and his supporters; GMA has been the longest serving president of the republic since Ferdinand Marcos.

Echoing the reactions of previous presidents, Palace aides said Duterte is not engaged in a popularity contest. Asked if the honeymoon is over, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “The love is still there.”

Mangahas said presidents should expect respect rather than love, and should give “satisfactory service.”

* * *

I don’t know if you can call it respect, but lawmakers’ support for the Malacañang occupant tends to be influenced by popularity as reflected in survey ratings. Congressional support can of course be swayed by Malacañang’s clever utilization of public funds, including the crude but timely distribution of cash gifts in brown paper bags during crisis situations. But high popularity is the easier, cheaper way for a president to keep a super majority intact in Congress.

When there’s a precipitous drop in a president’s survey ratings, the political butterflies smell blood. There can be greater resistance to a president’s legislative agenda.

A steep drop in popularity this early in a six-year term also weakens a president’s endorsement power, which is critical for his allies in the mid-term elections less than two years from now.

If alliances, tenuous to begin with, begin fraying, even Duterte’s top priority, his war on illegal drugs, can suffer. There will be greater resistance to his brutal methods, and more cooperation with the individuals now documenting abuses that could bolster accusations of state-sponsored summary executions of drug suspects.

* * *

The other major pollster, Pulse Asia, is expected to come out with the results of its third quarter survey shortly. The two pollsters usually have similar results, so the SWS findings will likely be affirmed in the Pulse Asia survey.

Without waiting for the affirmation, the administration can start assessing what can be done to stop or even reverse the slide in the President’s ratings.

The steep fall indicates growing impatience for results in several areas. Since the President failed to deliver on his self-imposed deadline of six months to eliminate the drug menace, as he claims he did in his home city of Davao, he should deliver solid results in other areas.

He can jettison some of the incompetent members of his team, whose appointments are clearly just for political accommodation. Public services are suffering, the incompetents are wasting people’s money, and it’s the President’s image that’s taking a hit. After a year and a half, amateur hour and the period for repaying political debts should be over. The public can be spared from these NPAs or non-performing asses (that’s right, the donkey).

The President can address some of the sources of disaffection during the previous administration, which contributed to his dramatic rise to power. For example, I still don’t have my driver’s license card a year after I was given a provisional license, and my car still doesn’t have license plates. These are common complaints.

Last week the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Employers Confederation of the Philippines expressed exasperation over the political bickering and the weak focus on project implementation. They’re “sick and tired” of the political noise, one business leader lamented. The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines also recently released its assessment of progress on the President’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

No one expects Duterte to stop his war on drugs because of his slipping ratings. But the sharp fall should tell him that the means to his end could use a recalibration. His ratings plummeted during a survey period that covered public dismay over the killings of teenagers and other abuses related to the campaign against the drug menace and criminality.

The campaign has also suffered from perceptions of being selective, with Duterte supporters shielded from Tokhang and Double Barrel. He has accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, not entirely without basis, of selective justice, so he should also avoid selectiveness in his own causes. Whether in fighting the drug menace or corruption, he must be an equal opportunity tormentor. Admittedly, this may be a pipe dream in our society.

Duterte’s avowed abhorrence of corruption, shaken by accusations against him and his family, can still be burnished if he launches an anti-graft campaign with the same zeal that he has applied in going after notorious drug dealers.

Much can be achieved by a popular president, and there are many world leaders who can only dream of having satisfaction and trust ratings in the 60s and 70s.

Popularity is a precious commodity that must not be squandered.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/10/11/1747575/faster-average

Eastern Communications joins JFC in support of Phl economic growth at 6th Arangkada Philippines Forum

Posted on Sep 26 2017 – 8:45pm by Upgrade Staff

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) held the 6th Arangkada forum, themed “Implementing the 10-Point Agenda”. Co-sponsored by Eastern Communications, the 6th Arangkada Philippines Forum tackled the acceleration of the country’s economic growth using the administration’s 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda, which includes recommendations on key programs and policies in the fields of agribusiness, business processing management, infrastructure (telecommunications, water, transportation and power), manufacturing, logistics, mining and tourism.

(From left) Mary Grace Villaruel, Eastern Communications Market Intelligence Specialist , John D. Forbes, Chief of Party, The Arangkada Philippines Project and Senior Adviser, The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Bruce Winton, President, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Jurelyn San Antonio, Eastern Communications, Campaign Management Coordinator, Hiroshi Shiraishi, President, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc., Melanie Tabuena – Eastern Communications Product Management Specialist and Sidney Esteron, Eastern Communications Associate Account Manager

The 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda aims to spur self-sustaining and inclusive growth throughout the country, with its successful implementation depending not only on the efforts of the government but also the active participation of the business community. The fastest growing of the larger ASEAN-6 economies, Philippines’ economy has been seeing significant developments , with its gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 6.3 percent from 2011 to 2016.

However, National Competitiveness Council (NCC-private sector) Co-chair Guillermo M. Luz also pointed out the struggle to keep up with neighboring countries.

“In the report for global competitiveness or global competitiveness Index, we’re ranked 47th in 2015 but we slipped in the last year to 57th. This is a reminder that if we slow down (even) for a little bit, if we relax too much, other countries will move up,” Luz said.

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To speed up the country’s economic growth, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Usec. Denis Vilorente stressed the importance of filling in the infrastructure gap. Among the projects needed are the proposed Mega Manila subway, construction and rehabilitation of airports and seaports, construction of 13 new bridges across Pasig River, and the rehabilitation of Guadalupe Bridge.

The modernization of the country’s telecommunication infrastructure is another challenge that needs to be addressed. As estimated by the World Bank, a country can achieve a 1.38-percent increase in its GDP if the broadband penetration is increased by 10 percent. Competitive digital connectivity can lower the cost of doing business while the digitization of processes and providing convenient online applications and licensing can cut down processing time and curb red tape, thus increasing the ease of doing business in the country.

DICT Undersecretary Dennis Vilorente said that they are now working on the reform of the public sector document processing through digital transactions and urging the local governments and agencies to make use of the GovCloud to reduce the paper filing for private firms and individuals.

The JFC recommends supporting start-up ventures to encourage the industry to move up the chain towards more technology and innovation driven ventures.

As one of the country’s telecommunications companies, Eastern Communications understands the role played by digital connectivity in spurring a country’s continued economic growth. Modernizing the country’s telecommunication infrastructure coupled with stronger start-up and SME support prompts a series of positive effects on the economy, such as bringing in investments, creating jobs, initiating innovations, and forming a progressive entrepreneurial industry.

Source: http://www.upgrademag.com/web/2017/09/26/eastern-communications-joins-jfc-in-support-of-phl-economic-growth-at-6th-arangkada-philippines-forum/


PH economy remains on track for expansion, says Tetangco

Published By Lee C. Chipongian

The Philippines looked set to becoming an upper middle-income economy by the end of the Duterte administration, according to former central bank governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr.

Amando M. Tetangco Jr.

MB File- Amando M. Tetangco Jr.

“With a reform-oriented government and a collaborative private sector, achieving the Philippines’ goal of becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2022 is indeed highly feasible,” said Tetangco in a speech before members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce (JFC). The group awarded him the Arangkada Philippines Lifetime Achievement during a forum last week.

Tetangco, who stepped down as a two-term governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) last July, continues to see the country’s “strong macroeconomic fundamentals, sound economic management, solid domestic demand and a young and vibrant workforce.”

“The Philippines is touted to become Asia’s next economic powerhouse,” said Tetangco, citing the World Bank’s June 2017 Global Economic Prospects projects that the Philippines “will be in the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world with a GDP growth forecast of 6.8 percent.”

Arangkada Philippines Forum has its own “Implementing the 10-point Agenda” proposals and Tetangco thanked the group for its “valuable partnership and inputs (and) its constructive criticisms.”

Tetangco said it is important to this agenda to enhance the competitiveness of the business environment, to fast-track economic growth and for inclusive growth. Tetangco pointed out that this was achievable and listed the factors that would continue to support growth such the country’s “low and stable” inflation, the well-capitalized and liquid banking system that he said “continues to intermediate funds to the productive sectors of the economy” and “poverty incidence that continues to decline over the years.”

“The BSP has helped cultivate this positive alignment of macroeconomic indicators through calibrated monetary policy, aided by enhanced surveillance and an expanded tool kit; responsive banking regulations, aligned with international standards but recognizing relevant domestic conditions; and market determined external policy, including the liberalization of foreign exchange regulations,” he said. The JFC Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Award is for individuals – not strictly Filipinos – who have “contributed significantly to improving the country’s business environment.”

“Mr. Tetangco was chosen by the JFC for
accomplishments as BSP governor that were very
important to the foreign investment community,” a statement from the group said. Past awardees include former President Fidel V. Ramos, former PEZA director general Lilia de Lima, SGV founder Washington Sycip, and former foreign affairs secretary Roberto Romulo.

Source: http://business.mb.com.ph/2017/09/23/ph-economy-remains-on-track-for-expansion-says-tetangco/

[OPINION] Improving the investment climate

By:  – @inquirerdotnet  |  / 05:08 AM September 23, 2017


The National Competitiveness Council has been tracking the Philippines’ progress across various global indices since 2010, and by most indicators it has gone up the rankings over this period. It’s a remarkable achievement for the country, which has struggled to improve the relative attractiveness of its business environment to international investors. But despite these improvements, it would be premature to pronounce Philippine competitiveness a success. As we discussed in the recent Arangkada business forum, there is still a lot of room for the country to introduce reforms and institutionalize the practices behind our improvements.

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), in a daylong forum dubbed “Arangkada: Implementing the Ten-Point Agenda,” gathered an audience of stakeholders to discuss the specific areas for reform and the potential measures that could be undertaken by the government. The conference provided insights on how the investor community views the Philippine market and how the government intends to address some of the investor concerns. The Arangkada publication has several recommendations. Here are the first three:

The Philippines should continue aggressive efforts to improve its rankings. The government and the private sector should select areas of competitiveness which are the most important to investors and where the Philippines can move up the most and the fastest, and focus resources on improving these.

The Philippines should equal or exceed Indonesia and Vietnam in the next few years and Thailand in the medium term in terms of rankings in major global competitiveness indices.

A review of potentially anticompetitive legislation and policies that may substantially prevent, restrict, or lessen competition is in order.

One specific area is the foreign investment negative list. The government is currently reviewing the list, which was last updated in 2015. The list outlines the sectors where the government has decided to exclude foreign participation. But under this administration, officials have spoken of ensuring the highest possible easing of foreign restrictions to date.

The commitment to ease restrictions is a positive development. However, the list itself is only one part of the broader restrictions that the Philippines has imposed on foreign participation. Foreigners hoping to invest in some sectors, like the practice of some professions or the media, will still have to wait for legislation or even constitutional amendments before they can participate. Even then, fostering a good business environment goes beyond liberalizing the economy on paper. A more attractive economy will be the result of several factors, including a stable macroeconomic environment, adequate infrastructure, lessened red tape, and low incidences of crime and corruption.

Unlike his predecessor, who convened the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council only twice during his term, President Duterte has decided to convene it regularly. This ensures better coordination among the leaders of the government branches to discuss the legislation needed to achieve the administration’s socioeconomic agenda. So far, the council is prioritizing these proposed pieces of legislation: the Ease of Doing Business Act to cut red tape, the Rightsizing the National Government Act to streamline the bureaucracy, Comprehensive Tax Reform, the National Transport Act to address the transport crisis, and the amendment to the Public Services Act to liberalize the telecommunications, transport and power industries.

Alongside these legislative measures, the government should incorporate automation into its processes. For example, it could use automation to streamline the business permitting and licensing system, cut bottlenecks in land titling, and interconnect various agencies. These measures would reduce opportunities for corruption.

Foreign investments have been increasing in the last few years. Last June it surged by 182.7 percent—a vote of confidence in the country’s prospects. We cannot lose this momentum. Economies worldwide are also increasing in competitiveness. We must work doubly hard lest we get left behind.

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/107343/improving-investment-climate

Tetangco receives lifetime achievement award from JFC

By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) 

Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines presidents with past and present Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardees during the recently concluded sixth anniversary of Arangkada Philippines Forum at the Marriott Grand Ballroom. In photo, from left, are Ho-Ik Lee (KCCI), Bruce Winton (AmCham), Julian Payne (CanCham), 2014 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee former PEZA director general Lilia de Lima, PAMURI chairman Shameem Quraeshi, Tom Grealy (ANZCham), 2017 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee former BSP governor Amando Tetangco Jr., Hiroshi Shiraishi (JCCIPI), 2015 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee SGV founder Washington Sycip, AmCham executive director Ebb Hinchliffe, Evelyn Ng (PAMURI), Arangkada chief-of-party John Forbes, and JCCPI vice-president Nobuo Fujii.

MANILA, Philippines — Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco Jr. has been awarded the Arangkada Philippines Lifetime Achievement award by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines.

The Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals of any nationality that have lived and worked in the Philippines for 25 years and have contributed significantly to improving the country’s business environment.

JFC said Tetangco was chosen as this year’s recipient given his accomplishments as central bank governor which played an important role to the foreign investment community.

Among these accomplishments include managing inflation, the exchange rate, and the debt burden highly effectively, achieving record levels of reserves exceeding $80 billion, making reforms to increase the foreign banking presence in the Philippines, raising confidence of rating agencies to give investment grade ratings, and emphasizing financial inclusion and financial education for young people, among others.

“Being BSP governor is a role that had many challenges but one that I will always cherish. I feel very honored and also humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve in that capacity,” Tetangco said.

“Now that my term at the BSP has ended, I look forward to the work exemplified by private sector organizations like the JFC that proves public service is not a monopoly of the government.

The private sector has a tremendous role to play in improving people’s lives. I will constantly bear this lesson in mind as I move on to this new chapter of my life as a private citizen,” he added.

Source: http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2017/09/22/1741357/tetangco-receives-lifetime-achievement-award-jfc

[OPINION] The investment and infrastructure challenges in implementing the 10-Point Agenda

Thinking Beyond Politics by Victor C. Manhit | September 20, 2017

In the medium term, the government is aiming to reach an annual GDP growth of between 7% and 8%. These rates are higher than we’ve seen in recent years, but our officials are optimistic. At the sidelines of the recent Arangkada business forum, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia assured us that these rates are achievable, particularly when the current restrictions on foreign investments are lifted. While listening to the presentations, it seemed as though all our economic officials are similarly bullish for what they can accomplish.

At present, the government is reviewing the foreign investment negative list (FINL), which is the official list of sectors where foreign participation in excluded. Revised every two years, this round is the first time that the administration will have a hand in deciding where foreign investment is welcome.

By all accounts, this government is taking a more liberal approach than its predecessors.

At a different event, Secretary Pernia even shared that he had sent the initial draft of the 11th FINL back to the drawing board — deeming the first round of proposed changes too “puny.” This aggressive push is more than welcome for our economy, and Secretary Pernia’s statements are certainly an encouraging development.

The new list is expected to be released sometime in the next quarter, as the next draft will still have to be presented to the NEDA board for approval. According to Secretary Pernia, the sectors that he aims to open for foreign inclusion are: retail trade, professions, public utilities, and contractors. Some of these sectors are also expected to liberalize in line with the rest of the region as part of the ASEAN Economic Community.

As important as it is, liberalizing the investment environment is only one step to attracting more investment in the country. Deeper reforms are needed if we are to propel our economy to greater heights. Which reforms are necessary to improve our country’s competitiveness and foster an even more dynamic investment climate? These were the questions tackled during a recently held forum organized by the Joint Foreign Chambers, called “Arangkada Philippines: Implementing the 10-Point Agenda.”

Arangkada is a Tagalog word that translates to “accelerate,” a term that aptly captures the pace of our economy’s expansion over the last few years. While the previous administration made significant strides in fueling our economy, it fell short in achieving some of its growth and development targets. President Duterte and his team are capitalizing on these shortcomings.

Even before Duterte gave his oath of office, his economic team had already laid out its 10-point socioeconomic agenda. The speed with which it had declared its objectives reflected the administration’s obvious commitment to bringing about swift and impactful reforms — reforms that have to be implemented if we are to turn our ambitious targets into reality.

For those who were not able to make it, the Joint Chambers have published their lists of recommendations, covering macro-economic reforms, competition, infrastructure, rural development, human capital, poverty alleviation, and science, technology and the arts, in the conference proceedings.

The decrepit state of the country’s infrastructure is often cited as the Achilles heel of our economic potential. Thankfully, with the launch of the Build, Build, Build campaign earlier this year, there is no discounting that infrastructure is a centerpiece project of our current leadership. As a result, there has been renewed interest in the infrastructure sector and in how the administration will accomplish its targets.

For its part, the Duterte administration has announced a list of priority infrastructure projects.

During the forum, it was encouraging to listen to our government officials talking about the big-ticket projects that they intend to break ground on or even complete during this term. These projects include the Japan-funded Mega Manila Subway and 13 bridges across the Pasig River, two of which will be built with Chinese grants. Given the state of our traffic situation today in Manila, all of these projects will be watched and waited for with great anticipation.

Yet, several of these projects are reboots from the previous administration — a sobering reminder that they had failed to advance despite years of gestation. As always, the devil is in the execution, not the planning.

While the government has promised to increase infrastructure spending, this should also be complemented with institutional and policy reforms. The approval of the National Transport Policy this year is a good step towards unifying all transport projects. The administration’s push to right-size the bureaucracy is also a welcome measure to address the fragmented institutional setup of various transport agencies. Over the long term, a mechanism should be in place to ensure policy continuity every time a new administration steps into office.

With great anticipation also comes great apprehension about whether the Duterte administration will be able to see its commitments through to the end and achieve them as planned. Thankfully, it has everything going for it: years of sound fiscal policy have afforded the government a wide-enough fiscal space to make these necessary investments. It would be a waste to let the best opportunity that we have had in decades slip between our fingers.

Source: http://bworldonline.com/investment-infrastructure-challenges-implementing-10-point-agenda/

At least $10 B yearly FDI possible with reforms — JFC

By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines —  The Philippines can easily attract at least $10 billion in foreign direct investments (FDI) annually once existing restrictions and improvement on its overall competitiveness are addressed, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines said.

JFC officials said yesterday while the country may be considered the “rock star of Southeast Asia” as far as economic expansion is concerned, it remains a laggard in terms of FDI due to several factors affecting its business environment.

“The Philippines should receive $10 billion a year. But what is preventing the country’s economy from running on all cylinders? Growth of business processing, manufacturing, and tourism have been high, but the growth of agriculture has been weak and mining has moved backward despite its high potential,” Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines president Hiroshi Shiraishi said.

“The really relevant criteria is how we are doing compared with our leading ASEAN neighbors such as Vietnam, Thailand and so on. Our target should be to have at least the ASEAN average in FDI. And we still have a long way to go,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Julian Payne said separately.

The country’s net FDI last year zoomed 40 percent to a new record level of $7.9 billion, surpassing the full-year target of $6.7 billion.

“The key point is how quickly the new administration can proceed with its stated intention to remove restrictions of FDIs. There have already been a number of initiatives,” Payne said.

In a new Arangkada Project publication released yesterday, the JFC outlined various recommendations on reducing cost of doing business and increasing competitiveness and ease of doing business in the Philippines.

“There was a lot of concern about the reputation impact of the extrajudicial killings. But most companies have realized that in most sectors, it hasn’t changed the day-to-day operating environment and most companies are pushing ahead,” Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Tom Grealy said.

“The underlying economic management is good, and there is fundamental reform coming which will potentially set the Philippines up for the next 20 years, particularly the tax reform so it’s quite actually an exciting time,” he added.

With regard to tax reform, the JFC said concerns have been raised by its members over proposed provisions in the first TRAIN that could have negative effects on business process management, ROHQ, automotive, and beverage firms.

The group said some of these concerns were ameliorated in the House version of the new law, while others may be resolved in the Senate and the bicameral reconciliation process.

“JFC members support taxes that are more progressive than regressive, that incentivize individuals and corporations to work hard to produce income, save, and invest, that impose a significant burden of taxation on consumption, support investment and job creation, support needed physical and social infrastructure programs, and are collected fairly, fully, efficiently, and without corruption,” the group said.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/09/15/1739165/least-10-b-yearly-fdi-possible-reforms-jfc

ECCP: Philippines ‘not sending the right signals’ to foreign investors

 / 03:51 PM September 14, 2017

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said on Thursday that concerns in the political stability of the country, including the substantial downsizing of the 2018 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), is “not sending the right signals” to foreign investors.

ECCP President Guenter Taus said that the national government needs to look into long term solutions that would make the country look attractive to new investors that may want to set up shop here. However, he said that inviting new investments from overseas is “becoming more and more difficult.”

Taus made this assertion as he noted that the anticipated job gains to be brought about by the so-called “golden age of infrastructure” may be temporary, citing project-based construction jobs as an example.

“We have to look at long term solutions, meaning that goes with the political stability of the country as well as with the peace and order, and everything else. With a budget of $20 for the human rights commission, I don’t think we’re sending the right signals,” he said in a press briefing during the Arangkada Philippines forum.

This is the first time that ECCP has spoken up against the downsized budget of the CHR, which has been recently voted by a majority of lawmakers in the lower house giving it a budget of P1,000 for 2018 — a move which has received backlash not only in the local front, but in the international community as well.

Prior to this, the CHR only faced a 10-percent cut in its budget, or P649.48 million, as proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). This developed as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez threatened to defund the CHR for criticizing the thousands killed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

However, ECCP said in previous media interviews that investors see the Philippines differently from outside looking in, citing how the country is portrayed in international press for its dismal record on human rights violations.

This is supported by a recent survey among EU business based here in the Philippines which showed that a lot of them are still confident about the economic outlook of their companies here in the country. However, Taus said that the concern is more with the new companies that may want to enter the Philippines.

“We have been here long enough to understand how the [country works]. It’s bringing in new investments that (are) becoming more and more difficult,” he said. /kga

Source: http://business.inquirer.net/236837/eccp-philippines-foreign-investors-chr-budget-p1000-guenter-taus-europe

Major reforms required for 9% GDP growth–JFC

By  Cai Ordinario | September 14, 2017

BUSINESSMEN belonging to the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) on Thursday identified reforms that must be undertaken by the Duterte administration to grow GDP by 9 percent and achieve the goals of its 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

The JFC’s recommendations are contained in its publication, titled  “Arangkada Philippines and the 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Duterte Administration”, which was presented during a forum held in Pasay City.

“Despite the impressive progress, in comparison to its other major Asean neighbors, the Philippines still lags behind in terms of overall competitiveness,” the report read.

Citing the most recent data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report, the Arangkada publication noted that the Philippines rated considerably lower than Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, and only slightly ahead of Vietnam.

“The unfortunate 10-place drop from 47 in 2015 to 57 in the 2016 WEF competitiveness ranking underlines the need to both sustain improvements and increase efforts to move ahead of the competition, which is not standing still in their own efforts to attract more investment,” the report added.

The JFC said it outlined numerous recommendations for boosting the economy, increasing competition and improving the investment climate, infrastructure building, rural development, investing in human-capital development and strengthening the implementation of the reproductive-health law.

The group also called for promoting science and technology, developing creative industries, promoting manufacturing and strengthening the poverty alleviation and social-protection program.

“The government should adopt policies to double the GDP growth rate to 9 percent. This has to be supported by a clear long-term industry policy,” the Arangkada report read. This clear long-term industry policy, the JFC said, will allow the Philippines to also increase its earnings from merchandise exports by 15 percent annually and hit the $100-billion mark.

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Guenter Taus said for the longest time factories were only doing assembly work.

When it comes to manufacturing, Taus added the countries that have strong industries are South Korea, Japan, the United States  and EU. The manufacturing sector has created 5 million to 7 million jobs in these countries.  In order to “create” a manufacturing sector, Taus said the government needs to support small and medium enterprises to enable them to manufacture and deliver goods.

“If you look at $25 billion or $30 billion in export in the electronics sector and look at the related import figures, you will be shocked. Everything we actually do here, what we keep here is labor because all the rest is import, and what we export is a semifinished good, not the finished product,” Taus added.

American Chamber of Commerce senior adviser John D. Forbes said this is linked to the recommendations from the last Sulong Pilipinas summit, which urged the government to focus on the country’s competitive advantages.

Forbes added, however, the industry road maps have not identified specific commodities or products that the Philippines can concentrate on.  While a 9-percent GDP growth and a double-digit export growth has not been recorded in nearly 10 years, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said these are “doable targets” for the Philippines.

The highest GDP growth registered by the Philippines in nearly 40 years is 7.6 percent, while the highest export growth in 10 years was posted in 2010 at 33.98 percent.

“A higher growth is always an ambition, and we all want to grow the economy faster, exports, investments, so [there’s] nothing wrong with that. This is why they are using the word arangkada,because it’s really quantum jumps, quantum leaps,” Pernia said at the sidelines of forum.

“[These targets are] feasible, especially when we remove the restrictions on foreign investment and the negative list,” he added.

Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. Director Safdar Quraeshi said agriculture is a “clear competitive advantage” for the country.

However, Quraeshi added many agribusinesses do not have access to shared machineries, solar technology and other innovations.

He said the government must extend incentives to these agri firms while encouraging the growth and development of companies belonging to the business-process outsourcing sector.

In the January-to-June period, the economy grew by 6.4 percent, slower than the 7 percent posted in the same period last year.

GDP expanded by 6.5 percent in the second quarter on the back of strong manufacturing growth, trade, and real estate, renting and business activities.


CHR getting meager budget sends bad signal to foreign investors—JFC member

 / 03:18 PM September 14, 2017
Members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines hold a press conference at the sixth Arangkada Philippines Forum in Pasay City. Photo by Pathricia Ann Roxas/INQUIRER.net

A member of the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce (JFC) warned on Thursday that the House of Representatives’ approval of a measly P1,000 budget to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2018 sends a bad signal to foreign investors.

Guenter Taus, JFC member and president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), said that the country needs to send the right signals to prove that the Philippines is “the destination of choice” for investors.

“We need to send the right signals out that we are the destination of choice. ‘Cause in my opinion if you really want sustainable growth, it is not enough to just build, build, build because build, build, build will end at one point in time,” Taus said in a press conference during the JFC’s Arangkada Philippines forum in Pasay City.

“… (With) the budget of $20 for the human rights commission, I don’t think we’re sending the right signals,” he added.

On Tuesday, the lower house slashed CHR’s budget to P1,000 after 1-Sagip Representative Rodante Marcoleta criticized the agency’s failure to investigate rights violations committed by criminals and terrorists.

READ: House gives Commission on Human Rights P1,000 budget for 2018

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also previously threatened to give a zero budget to the commission for “always criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.”

Meanwhile, the ECCP leader underscored that aside from the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build Program,” which aims to usher the golden age of infrastructure in the country by 2022, the government should also look at long-term solutions that will create jobs for Filipinos.

“We have to encourage all the industries here now. We still want to attract them to stay here and move forward and see that we build the much needed jobs that we’ve been promising people. Because it doesn’t help that you have infrastructure projects this year and then what’s next?” Taus said.

The country’s leaders, Taus said, should also plan for sustainable growth that “goes with political stability, as well as the peace and order.” /jpv

Source: http://business.inquirer.net/236830/chr-getting-meager-budget-sends-bag-signal-foreign-investors-jfc-memberjfc-chr-foreign-investor-eccp-budget-house-business