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Contractualization, peace talks and relations with allies topped the list of concerns that local business groups are hoping to be addressed this year.

Despite the growing confidence of the business community in the Duterte administration, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI) is hopeful the government will be able to address crucial issues that will affect the investment climate in the country.

In a phone interview, PCCI president George T. Barcelon said that the business sector was, for one, looking forward to more clarity on the government’s policies about contractualization.

“It would help if they would help clear the air on the issue of contractualization. Investors are willing to follow the law as long as it is clear and will be for the benefit of both the workers and the companies,” Barcelon said.

It can be recalled that the Department of Trade and Industry had proposed a “win-win solution,” aimed at ending only the abusive practices of labor contractualization and the controversial end-of-contract (endo) scheme.

Under this proposal, principal companies will be allowed to retain that flexibility of contracting certain services from third party agencies or service providers, which are expected to provide their workers a regular and permanent status, and will be mandated to provide benefits including retirement and separation packages. Also, the workers being deployed should not be co-terminus with the agency’s contract with the principal company. This would assure workers of security of tenure.

Legitimate contractualization, according to certain quarters, is different from the illegal endo schemes wherein workers are hired temporarily for a five-month contract and transferred to another entity for another five-month contract.

Barcelon also cited the need for the successful conclusion of peace talks with rebel groups so that investors could tap the lucrative trade and investment opportunities in Mindanao. He said there should also be increased collaboration and cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of the government so that crucial projects could be carried out more effectively.

The head of the country’s biggest business organization was referring specifically to projects concerning transport and infrastructure and the proposed emergency powers by the Department of Transportation.

Other concerns include the country’s relations with the United States and how the protectionist policies of US President-elect Donald Trump will affect American businesses in the Philippines; the proposed transition to a federalist state of government and its implications on local industries, and the sanctity of contracts, Barcelon said.

“I personally feel that the priority of the government should be more on the economic issues and how to make the country more attractive to investors,” he added.

In a separate text message, Makati Business Club executive director Peter Angelo V. Perfecto said they were hoping for an aggressive roll out of the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda to ensure a more enhanced climate for doing business and a more globally competitive Philippines.

“It will be best if the Duterte administration achieve win-win solutions on issues like the minimum wage and labor contracting soonest.  We look forward to continue working with the economic managers of the Duterte cabinet who have opened venues for dialogue and consultation with business leaders as well as other stakeholders in building better business in the country,” Perfecto added.

For Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), its president, Perry Pe, said they were hopeful that the administration would push through with its plans to reduce corporate and individual taxes; cut red tape and further ease doing business in the country; lift the economic restrictions in the Philippines; continue honoring existing contracts, and further accelerating infrastructure spending.

By: Amy R. Remo - Reporter / @amyremoINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:25 AM January 02, 2017

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