Dominguez seeks reforms behind Duterte's socio-econ agenda

INCOMING Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Monday, June 20, challenged the business community to build with government a wide-reaching “coalitions for change” as the linchpin of an out-of-the-box, public-private partnership that would enable the country’s growth streak to continue and finally benefit the Filipino majority, most especially those on society’s fringes.

Addressing over 300 business leaders at the opening of the two-day consultation workshop at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City, Dominguez said both private and public sectors need to jointly build reform coalitions behind the 10-point socio-economic agenda of incoming President Duterte, in keeping with his electoral mandate for peace and order plus inclusive growth.

Dominguez, who convened the meeting ahead of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's formal assumption to office on June 30, also called on the business sector to help the next administration draw up the new and correct metrics or standards to later on measure whether government has been meeting its socio-economic targets and, more importantly, whether such have been beneficial to poor and low-income families.

“I challenge the business community to build coalitions for change in every sphere of our social life,” he told delegates to the two-day event dubbed as the “Sulong: Hakbang Tungo sa Kaunlaran” consultative workshop.

Dominguez, who had served as secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and, later, of the Department of Agriculture (DA), called on the business leaders to “build public-private partnerships not just for projects but to transform our national community into a cooperative enterprise that brings out the best in everyone and delivers the best for all.”

“The way our voters chose last May 9 was not just to install a president,” he said.

“It is to change the way we do things as a nation. It is a patriotic call to start building a truly 21st century society where citizens trust their institutions and consumers trust producers. It is a society of Shared Value where each one benefits from the excellence of the other.”

“The macroeconomic numbers, however, do not tell the whole story,” Dominguez said. “Our people did not vote for change last May 9 because the macroeconomic numbers are good. They voted for change because the good macroeconomic numbers did not translate into a good life for all.”

“We need new metrics to understand how economic expansion could be made more meaningful for the majority of Filipinos. It is not enough to say the economy is growing. We have to develop measures that will show us how that economic growth converts into a more livable life for our people. This is how change should be charted from here on," he said.

Hence, he said, “I propose today that we start building coalitions for reform. We need to radically transform the way we do things so that economic growth does not translate into further entrenching the oligarchy; so that when we do things more efficiently, the majority benefits from the values created; so that when government performs better, the consumer benefits in the end.”

For all Filipinos to truly benefit from the country’s nascent economic gains, Dominguez said both the government and the private sector would have to jettison their traditional mindsets and radically change the ways they do business and deal with or serve our people.

Continue but overhaul

On the part of government, Dominguez said the incoming Duterte presidency will continue with the sound macroeconomic policies that have allowed the economy to grow under the current administration, but would overhaul the policies and systems that have barred an overwhelming majority of Filipinos from partaking of such benefits.

This will require sweeping reforms from the incoming government, he said, ranging from much higher public spending on human and physical capital to improve living standards to tougher law enforcement that would make our homes and streets safe anew.

Against this backdrop, he said the next administration will pursue “an environment that would be good for business” by, among others, leveling the playing field, carrying out investor-friendly initiatives, ridding the bureaucracy of graft and inertia, and freeing government agencies from “regulatory capture.”

For its part, the business community needs to deliver too on this new public-private partnership over the next six years, said Dominguez as he expressed hopes that the business leaders attending the consultation meeting could craft ways on how they could do their part by the end of this two-day workshop.

“We cannot transform government without transforming the community,” Dominguez said. “We cannot evolve a rules-based economy without a rules-based ethos for the whole community. We cannot have good governance in the public sector without good governance in the private sector.”

“Over the next six years, we should transform the national economy in ways that will bring not only social peace but also communities that nurture our people,” he said. “This will require accomplishing the goals outlined in the 10-point program.”
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