PCCI submits top actionable agenda to gov’t for economic growth and recovery
Cites other industry concerns, issues
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s voice of business presented to the government the top recommendations for economic growth and recovery at the Sulong Pilipinas Consultative Workshop organized by the Department of Finance.
PCCI President George T. Barcelon underscored the importance of Sulong Pilipinas as an engaging platform to promote participatory governance.
“We would like to convey our deepest gratitude to the Duterte administration for acknowledging the contributions of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the private sector in shaping our socioeconomic policies and programs for the benefit of the Filipino people,” Barcelon said as he enumerated the following recommendations:
1. From the Economic and Business Recovery Sector: To improve ease of doing business, the government should compel the participation of national and local government agencies in centralized government portals (e.g., Central Business Portal and TRADENET) and enforce penalties for non-compliance through ARTA
2. From the Agricultural Development and Modernization Sector: To improve agricultural modernization, the government should allocate a larger budget to the agriculture sector and provide financial assistance and capacity development for farmers
3. From the Infrastructure Development Sector: Continue the Build, Build, Build program, complete projects as scheduled, and ensure transparency in the bids and awards of contract
4. From the Innovation, Technology, and Research and Development Sector: To foster an innovative and R&D-focused Philippines, the DOST and DTI should begin rolling out the regional innovation centers and complete them by May 2023
5. From the Environmental Protection and Climate Change Resilience Sector: To maintain and deliver efficient and effective wastewater treatment in the country, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should impose stricter rules and standards and implement sustainable management guidelines by 2022.
6. From the Human Development Sector: To improve skills development, the government should reform TESDA and CHED, place early childhood care in under the DepEd, and improve qualification standards for professions.
7. . From the Tourism, History, and Culture and the Arts Sector: To improve access to tourist destinations, agencies under the Department of Tourism (MARINA, TIEZA), in cooperation with other national government agencies, must develop a road network for more organized provisions of tourism services
8. . From the Banking, Digitalization, and Financial Inclusion Sector: To promote financial inclusion, the BSP must collaborate more closely with the private sector to promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing or lending.
Business cites other key issues for economic reform at the Sulong Pilipinas
Apart from the actionanble recommendations, the private sector has listed other important issues that require government attention and policy direction to ensure the country’s economic recovery and growth.
“I would also like to mention some additional issues raised when I went around during the workshop which I believe will ensure the country’s economic recovery and growth, and strengthen our resilience against future crises,” Barcelon said.
He said there is a need to refocus on resource industries, such as mineral mining, oil exploration, bamboo planting, and salt. Bamboo planting in particular has benefits in climate mitigation and adaptation in terms of oxygen production and reducing soil erosion. Salt production will have benefits in foreign exchange as we currently import most of the salt we consume.
Barcelon also mentioned his discussion with representatives of Asian Development Bank and World Bank on the low-hanging fruits in agriculture that government should take advantage of for job creation and employment.
To promote farm consolidation, the private sector proposed the modification of the agrarian reform policy to help farmers benefit from economies of scale.
Barcelon mentioned a proposal to implement a right of way policy not only in roads and bridges, but also in irrigation canals and other irrigation infrastructure to lower the overall cost of irrigation.
To help decongest EDSA, the government should consider looping in commuters and making them a part of the solution. In order to avoid long lines, the pickup points for buses can be stretched. “Buses can be numbered based on definite pickup and dropoff points. When commuters are well-informed of this system, they can proceed to the right pickup points for their destinations without having to suffer very long lines. Bus operators and drivers will also benefit with less stops and fuller buses versus the current system, where buses compete for the same passengers,” he stressed.
Finally, Barcelon added, the government should consider having definite annual unemployment and underemployment targets, similar to targets for GDP growth. This will help the different agencies of government focus on policies to promote job creation.
Moreover, the PCCI President assured the government that PCCI will continue its support in revitalizing the economy by providing jobs, accelerating innovation, and expanding meaningful investments that will boost the competitiveness of our domestic economy.
Sulong Pilipinas is an annual consultative conference between the Duterte administration and the various citizen groups, including the business sector. PCCI and DOF partnership started in 2016 in Davao where Sulong Pilipinas was launched.