Platforms, not personal lives

CEBU’s businesss leaders said they want more important issues to be discussed on the next round of presidential debate in Cebu, not the usual mudslinging in politics.

“I wanted to hear platform of government, not excuses on Santiago’s health, Poe’s (lack of) experience, Duterte (being a) womanizer, and Binay’s corruption,” said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Donato Busa.

“I want them to tell me as a businessman what they can do to promote our businesses for ASEAN integration, poverty alleviation through jobs by giving incentives to business,” the MCCI president added.

Improving Internet speed in the country is also important, said Busa.

Presidential candidates Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe and former interior secretary Mar Roxas participated in the first leg of the Pilipinas Debates 2016 last Sunday, which was held in Cagayan de Oro. The five candidates shared their plans to eradicate poverty and improving agriculture, and addressed the different issues concerning their track records.

It was the first presidential debate that the Comelec held in 24 years and the first time to be held in Mindanao.

The second leg of the debates will be held at the University of the Philippines-Cebu on March 20.

UP Cebu, in an announcement posted on the Facebook community Speak Up Iskolar, said the debate venue can accommodate only 500 people and is by invitation only.

However, an additional 1,500 people may be accommodated at UP Cebu Grounds where live streaming will be provided.

Power, Internet

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Ma. Teresa Chan also had her own set of issues that she wanted tackled.

“We would like to hear their plans regarding having stable and lower cost of power, stronger Internet at cheaper rates, their views on income and corporate taxes...should they be lowered?” Chan said in a text message.

CCCI executive director May Elizabeth Ybañez raised her own concerns, saying presidentiables should inform the public how they propose to lower the cost of doing business in the country, their take on increasing foreign direct investments and solving “the oppressive implementing rules and regulatons at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs and the ports. She also wants them to bare their plans for operationalizing inclusive growth in the countryside, implenting real PPP projects and strategies to make more MSMEs competitive.

Difficulties

Filipino-Cebuano Business Club Inc. president Rey Calooy has a similar concern. He wants to hear from the presidentiables their solutions to problems faced by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Among the many problems this sector faces include bureaucracy in the government in setting up a business and the “multiple” fees imposed on MSMEs.

“For example, in the barangay level, we need to get a barangay clearance to open a business. I tell you, getting a barangay clearance is more difficult than getting a business permit. To secure a barangay clearance, there has to be a resolution first,” Calooy told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

He said that while access to credit has improved, many MSMEs still need more help. Fast-tracking the domestic credit information system should also be seen as important.

Property

Putting up this database is said to help more people access funding with less collateral, since the information would aid banks and financial institutions with data on the borrowers’ credit behavior.

Meanwhile, Philippine Real Estate Boards Inc. (Pareb) national president Samuel Lao said the organization is interested to know the stand of the five candidates on foreign ownership.

Limitations on foreign ownership in the country, according to Lao, is a turnoff to foreign investors.

“Foreigners can bring in more capital to speed up growth in the country,” Lao said.

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