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[EDITORIAL] Wish list

The Philippine Star
July 25, 2022 | 12:00am


The new administration inherited a deadly and economically crippling pandemic, a heavy debt that was incurred to respond to the health crisis, surging fuel prices, a much weakened peso as well as crises in agriculture, food security and education.

Today President Marcos is expected to expound on the broad strokes that he painted in his inaugural address, enumerating specific policies to carry out his priorities in his first year in office. This being his first State of the Nation Address, he is also expected to bare his long-term goals for the next six years.

In the light of fiscal constraints, he has said he would rely more on public-private partnerships to carry out key infrastructure and development projects. As he draws up his roadmap, local business groups and foreign chambers have released a wish list of sorts, pushing for the passage of 24 measures under the 19th Congress.

Since the President wants stronger partnerships with the private sector, he can urge his super majority in Congress to consider many of the proposed measures. Seven reached advanced stages of approval in the 18th Congress. These are the bills on the liberalization of foreign equity restrictions in the Constitution, open access in data transmission, ease of paying taxes, promotion of digital payments, and reforms in property valuation and assessment reforms as well as capital income and financial taxes.

A push for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience may have to take a backseat as the Department of Budget and Management pursues rightsizing in the bureaucracy, which is expected to involve cutting jobs.

A test of the new administration’s commitment to transparency will be the passage of a Freedom of Information Act – a measure that has been kicked around by lawmakers for many years now. Also likely to be contentious is the proposed measure, backed by the Department of Finance, to ease bank deposit secrecy laws.

Other measures pushed by the six major business groups and six foreign chambers are amendments of two laws to promote hybrid or flexible work schedules in economic zones, and amendments of laws on the PPP and build-operate-transfer scheme. Also pushed are amendments to the E-Commerce Act, Intellectual Property Code and the charter of the Philippine Ports Authority.

The groups also seek laws on national unemployment insurance and pandemic protection, the repeal of the Flag Act, creation of a Philippine Airports Authority, rationalizing holidays, reforming the apprenticeship program, easing of ownership rules in agricultural lands, promoting satellite-based technologies and international maritime trade competitiveness, and strengthening the pension system.

There’s a lot on everyone’s plate, apart from these proposed economic measures. With Congress officially beginning its session, both Malacañang and the legislature must buckle down to work.