ESPRESSO MORNINGS

By Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.
Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.

With the Philippines working to become an upper middle-income economy in the coming years, the vital role the private sector plays in the pursuit of this goal is further highlighted as a pillar of growth and a driver of innovation.

The private sector generates 93 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product and employs more than 92 percent of the country’s workforce – a testament to the crucial role it plays in the economy. More than serving as a vehicle for job creation, it must be emphasized that the private sector is a major economic lifeline, one that can sustain or break the growth momentum in the country.

But despite its significance in the economy, the private sector is generally at the mercy of policymakers when it comes to rules and regulations governing their operations.

As mentioned in a 2021 study by the Asian Development Bank: “…major constraints to private sector growth continue to be inadequate infrastructure, corruption, cumbersome business procedures, poor tax and customs administration, barriers to market entry and competition, weak property rights, high energy costs, and lack of equitable and effective regulation and enforcement.”

While the government has made significant progress in addressing many, if not all of these issues, I believe that the adoption of solutions can be improved and accelerated with the support of the private sector.

By working hand-in-hand with the private sector, the government can improve the overall investment climate much faster.

As a pillar of the economy, the views of the private sector should be largely considered in various government undertakings, particularly policymaking, since their insights and suggestions are based on and inspired by actual industry experiences.

True enough, the private sector is often undervalued when it comes to policymaking. Their insights are often overlooked despite the sector’s diverse representation of interests – ranging from multinational corporations to small businesses from various industries. In reality, the private sector offers a lot of practical solutions to industry problems that challenge progress and can help accelerate the implementation of public programs. This view is promoted by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. as seen in the inclusion of public-private partnerships in his administration’s priority agenda.

When it comes to policy discussions and deliberations, government officials should consult and listen to the views of private sector leaders especially since this is the sector that is directly impacted by economic policies and directions and in recognition of their contributions to our economy as a whole.

Private sector groups can offer policymakers feedback and perspectives on how to practically and effectively approach industry roadblocks and can provide suggestions on how to further enhance the current investment landscape to further economic growth. Their support and disapproval of certain proposals or measures should be given weight in public discussions.

The private sector provides a different perspective – one that often highlights economic impact and implications. This is important in navigating complex landscapes that impact not only the economy but social conditions as well.

By soliciting inputs from private sector groups, policymakers can have a more nuanced view of issues. Ultimately, it must be emphasized that those who will be directly impacted should have a voice in policymaking.

I trust that our lawmakers will consider this in deliberations on proposed measures, especially those that concern economic stability and growth, as well as our international reputation.