SOCIOECONOMIC Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia recently said in a statement that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its global growth projections down to 3.3 percent this year due to “social unrest, trade uncertainties, rising geopolitical tensions between countries, and worsening climate-related disasters” around the globe. Meanwhile, the 2019 national economic growth closed at 5.9 percent, the lowest in eight years.

But despite its failure to attain the revised 6.5 percent target (originally targeted at seven percent), the national government is bullish in promoting growth in the medium-term. Pernia sees an opportunity from the ongoing social unrest in other countries saying that multinational corporations in the manufacturing and service industry might opt to relocate in the Philippines. He, however, asserted the importance of completing the reforms in investment policies to provide a better business climate for foreign and private investors.

The Duterte administration has lined up several reform policies in the next three years including the Budget Reform Bill, BOT Law amendments, National Land Use Act, National Competition Policy, Department of Water and Water Regulatory Commission, Open Access in Data Transmission Act and the National Quality Infrastructure.

There is probably some light and truth about Pernia’s observations. Even the current scare on the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) could be an opportunity for the country to strengthen ties with global corporations financing manufacturers in China. The situation there is still very unstable, creating uncertainties in trade and investment. If the Philippine government succeeds in containing the spread of the virus here, the country has a huge window to gain possible business relocators.

Meanwhile, the challenges brought about by climate-change have equally affected products and markets in various sectors, particularly in agriculture. Harvest seasons for fishery have changed because of high temperatures and prolonged dry season. Such conditions caused decrease in production and harvest last year, according to the Tilapia growers in Pampanga. Also, the recent damages of fishery in Batangas have opened new markets to fish farmers in Central Luzon, but even this opportunity will not cover for the losses in agriculture in 2019. Even the hog industry suffered from the African Swine Flu and the Department of Agriculture is still closely monitoring the developments all over the country.

It is during these uncertain times that most businessmen in Central Luzon appreciate the existence of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Pamcham) because of its consistency in advocating for sustainable economic development. The Chamber has been very resilient and pro-active in promoting trade and business in the region, honing and empowering its member-companies to evolve into globally competitive enterprises.

One of the committees of Pamcham is the Economic Development Committee chaired by Malou Balano, who is also the executive director of PhilExport- Central Luzon. Aside from promoting investments and partnering with different public or private entities for advocacy projects, the Pamcham EcoDev Committee also leads the organization’s campaign for the full implementation of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

The law is intended to reduce the number of complaints on delayed government transactions, giving emphasis on improved systems and procedures both in the national and local governments. RA No. 11032 specifically aims to reduce processing time, cut bureaucratic red tape, and also eliminate corrupt practices.
Under the new law, processing time for government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) is three working days for simple transactions, seven days for complex transactions, and 20 working days for highly technical ones. All LGUs are also required to draft a unified business application form for the issuance of business permits, clearance, and other types of authorizations and it provided for the creation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority, which will be under the Office of the President.