DAVAO CITY (PNA)—President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will review the 10-point recommendations designed help push inclusive growth and move things forward under his administration as he vowed to push reforms in government.
But in a gist, Duterte told business leaders he never doubted his economic managers that they will work as team in fulfilling their “wish list” for his administration.
“I will study and review (your recommendations),” Duterte told business leaders at the two-day Economic Forum dubbed: “Sulong Pilipinas” held at the SMX Convention Center that was attended by more than 450 delegates representing the Philippines’ major business organizations.
He promised to push reforms in government, reiterating he wants a stop to corruption and provide a good climate for business by restoring peace and order in the streets and step-up drive versus criminality and drugs.
Duterte pointed out that his peace and order drive is anchored on his principle that there can be no progress unless there is no law and order
“Let me be brutal about this…corruption must stop now. I am addressing this to all Filipinos if you want to do something for your country. Corruption really make me sick,” he emphasized.
Duterte said it would be zero tolerance on graft and criminality.
This developed after the businessmen presented to him at the conclusion of the forum a “wish list” for his administration ranging from comprehensive tax rate reductions to a national ID system. The recommendations were the products from the workshops of 10 breakout groups.
The first five of the 10-point recommendation was presented by Jorge Barcelon of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).
On top of the wish list is the Comprehensive tax reform package including the reduction of corporate and personal income taxes as well as lower capital gains tax rates patterned after the taxation systems of Singapore and Hong Kong.
Barcelon said that to compensate for the deficit resulting from reduced tax rates, they have to increase excise taxes by expanding the definition of luxury goods.
Second is a push on a National ID System as a pressing need that will allow government agencies to provide more targeted social services and prevent double-counting or leakage. The system is expected to improve access health, education, food, shelter, and conditional cash transfer programs, aside from enhancing peace and order.
Third is the automation and streamlining of processes at the local and national levels to reduce processing time for permits and bottlenecks in land titling. Other suggestion are the expansion of the “single window” concept, extension of validity for various licenses, and use of “negative confirmation” for government approvals aimed to cut red tape.
Fourth, businessmen want an improvement of Internet and telecom services by amending the existing telecommunication law or Republic Act 7925 as a priority along with the passage of a law to regulate wireless/mobile internet services to make the competitive with the ASEAN neighbors.
Barcelon said they were also recommending the creation of internet cooperative in far-flung areas similar to existing electric coops to ensure enhanced connectivity.
The fifth is the support to service for farmers. Barcelon said they proposed the adoption of value-chain development in rural-based enterprises, including agriculture and mariculture.
He said that in order to recognize the vast untapped potential of the agri-sector, they recommended a support system through financing, technology, and logistics to raise rural productivity and employment.
Meanwhile, the next five recommendations which were presented by Vicente Lao of the Mindanao Business Council included the value-added, responsible mining.
Lao said the forum participants wanted the next administration to limit and gradually eliminate the export of mineral ore. Instead, they recommended a shift to value-added processing that would facilitate a strong domestic mineral products industry.
Seventh is the development of regional industries. Lao said there was a need for a national strategy to determine sectors where the country has the greatest competitive advantage and optimize the value of our land, people, and other resources. Delegates suggested an action plan to identify industry clusters and regions where SMEs should locate to avail of lower transport, energy, and logistics costs.
Eighth is the improvement of transport networks to address the clamor to fast-track infrastructure projects nationwide. Lao said priority should be the development of regional airports, seaports, and mass transit projects such as the North-South Railway, C-6 Expressway, Cebu Bus Rapid Transit, and Davao Port projects.
Ninth is the review of the Conditional Cash Transfer, which has been perceived as a program that promotes dependency on government.
Businessmen saw the need to review the CCT to allow for long-term intervention that teaches the poor to catch fish rather than receive dole-outs. Participants suggested enhancing social protection initiatives through skills development, cash for work, livelihood projects, among others.
And the tenth is the reduction of bottlenecks in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) and respect for contracts.
Lao said concrete measures should be made to remove roadblocks preventing speedy implementation of vital infra projects, such as right-of-way issues and lack of synergy between LGUs and national government agencies. Delegates want an assurance from the incoming administration that existing and future contracts will be honored.
Given this, both Barcelon and Lao echoed the support of the business sector to his administration even assuring Duterte that they were ready to lend a hand.
“You are the captain of the ship. We are committed to help. Call us if you want us to go on board,” Barcelon urged.
“You can be the signal and the whole country will follow,” Lao said. (PNA)