Business leaders give economic agenda to Duterte

June 29, 2016 at 10:50

Business leaders give economic agenda to Duterte

by Catherine Pillas

THE business community presented its counter 10-point economic recommendations to the Duterte administration at the close of the two-day business forum-cum-workshop, dubbed “Sulong Pilipinas,” held in Davao.

Top business leaders synthesized their various proposals to 10 recommendations for the Duterte administration, after consultation with the President-elect’s economic team.

At the close of the forum-workshop, the recommendations enumerated by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George T. Barcelon were:

  1. Adoption of a comprehensive tax-reform package, including the reduction of corporate-income tax and personal-income tax. Capital- gains tax rates should be reviewed. Tax systems should be simplified for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). To offset the revenue loss that will result from these reforms, excise tax should be increased by expanding the definition of luxury goods, among others.
  2. Implementation of a national ID system for improved targeting of social services. This would prevent double counting and leakage of social benefits. There would also be proper identification of informal settlers.
  3. Streamlining of business permits and licenses to improve ease of doing business and to reduce corruption. Automation should be introduced in the process to reduce human intervention. The Philippines’s National Single Window project should be expanded. This will also entail extending validity of various permits and licenses, as well as automatic approval after a certain period of time if the government agency does not act on the approval.
  4. Improvement of Internet telecommunication services to be on a par with Asean neighbors. This would entail amendment of Republic Act 7925, the law governing the Philippine telecommunications sector. With the increase of wireless mobile devices, a law should be passed to regulate mobile-device services. Moreover, the business community suggested the removal of the need of telecom players to secure a congressional franchise.
  1. Delivery of support systems and services to fishers through financing, incentives, irrigation systems, postharvest facilities, improved farm-to-market roads to develop the potential of agriculture.
  2. Implementation of responsible mining, with local value-adding component. It was suggested that the country should gradually eliminate exports of mineral ore to localize value-added processing. This would spur the development of iron and steel, and copper wire and tube industry.
  3. National strategy for industries where the country has greatest competitive advantage, specific sectors and areas where workers have a competitive advantage to optimize resources. This would also mean a clustering strategy where specific activity, such as in agri-processing and manufacturing, would be concentrated. There should be a shared-cost mind-set adapted by MSMEs to lower costs, and consolidate requirements of roads and airports in the cluster.
  4. Improvement of transport network across the country to improve connectivity. Suggestions include the development of regional airports and Sasa port. On roads and mass transport, recommended as actionable items are the North South railway project, Cebu bus rapid-transit system and Mindanao rail system, among others.
  5. Review Conditional-Cash Transfer Program.
  6. Remove bottlenecks in infrastructure and respect the sanctity of contracts.

“We came up with these recommendations after two days of work. We were asked to vote for the priorities. We would like to think these would guide our country to better days,” Barcelon said.


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