THE fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 23, has given a feeling of “excitement” to the local business sector, particularly on what will happen to the remaining three years of his administration.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said the President has already put in order the “house development framework” during the first half of his term.
Carbon said Duterte has put in place the macro economy like sustaining the gross domestic product (GDP) growth, and stabilizing the interest and inflation rates as well as the value of peso against dollar.
“We are excited of his (Duterte) direction in the next three years guided of what he has put in place in the past,” he said, adding that “now that the house’s foundation is strongly constructed, it is time for the growth to trickle down.”
For the business group, Duterte’s direction for next three years is seemingly developing the rural areas including the farmers, fisherfolk and small businesses.
“The President has recognized that there will be no development in the rural areas if lawlessness persists which, for us, is very important,” it said.
The MBCCI also lauded the President’s order to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to be aggressive in helping local cooperatives.
Duterte, in his Sona, said “You know, you are called Land Bank but you are now the number one commercial bank in the Philippines.”
“Land Bank should go back to land. Why are you mired in so many commercial transactions? Bumalik kayo where you were created for and that is to help the farmers,” he said.
The President gave the LBP until the end of July to give him a plan or else he will ask Congress to reconfigure it.
“If there is no viable plan for the farmers and it is just all commercial transactions, might as well abolish it and give the money to the congressmen for their development funds,” Duterte added.
For the local business group, one of the major problems of the farmers, fisherfolk and small businesses is financing which the LBP is supposed to provide.
It also cited the bulk requirements set by the bank that makes hard for the would-be recipients to avail its services.
Another significant points, for the local business sector, which the President has included in his report are the passing of the National Land Use Act, creation of the Department of Water Resources and Water Regulatory Commission, continuous fight against corruption and directing local government units (LGUs) to make the processing of permits faster only up to three days.
Duterte said a science-based national land use plan would serve as basis for the LGUs in crafting respective development plans, and help disperse economic activities to the countryside.
“The dispersion of economic and business activities to Visayas and Mindanao is not just a campaign promise. It is an economic imperative and a key to our country’s sustainable and equitable development. We will encourage investments that would develop the rural areas and Metro Manila and other mega urban areas,” he said.
Carbon stressed that a corruption-free government and more efficient permit processing will encourage businesses and investments to come in.
The issues on water management is also relevant in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City particularly in terms of potable water source and irrigation, Carbon said.
“The President’s order to local governments to reclaim public roads will also address congestion,” he said, adding that traffic has become a problem in Manila and Cebu and soon in Bacolod and Iloilo.
In Bacolod City alone, the business leader said only about 50 to 60 percent of the public roads are utilized.
Carbon said if addressed, this would boost mobility and decongest traffic flow resulting in economic growth.
“The President’s pronouncements are pragmatic, practical and doable. Though, it will not trickle down if government agencies and local governments will not work for it,” he added.