THE delegation of business leaders from Visayas submitted on Monday its list of recommendations to achieve President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda during a two-day consultative meeting in Davao City.
Melanie Ng, president of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), lauded the new administration’s effort to reach out to the business community to tackle Duterte’s agenda within his six-year term, as well as solicit recommendations from the stakeholders on how to make economic priorities available for all.
“This initiative is good because it makes everyone, the business community, take part in creating the economic plans for the country,” said Ng, adding that the consultative meeting was a good gesture by the incoming administration.
The Visayas business delegation was composed of leaders from CCCI headed by Ng, together with past presidents Lito Maderazo and Samuel Chioson; Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Donato Busa and trustee Glenn Soco; and representatives from Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Dubbed “Sulong Pilipinas: Hakbang Tungo sa Kaunlaran”, the consultative workshop with the business community was held at the SMX Convention Center inside SM Lanang Premier in Davao City. Over 300 representatives of the Filipino business community were invited to the event, which was co-presented by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Mindanao Business Council.
According to Ng, the output of the Visayas delegation submitted to the organizers was a summary of the concerns and issues of the three business chambers. It, likewise, outlined recommendations per item of the 10-point socioeconomic agenda.
Projects under the incoming leadership of President-elect Duterte are centered on investing in rural areas to boost countryside economic opportunities, spread growth and generate more employment.
While business chamber support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is already present, the Visayas business delegation outlined in its list of recommendations the need for government’s support for business membership organizations in key areas in the countryside; operationalize the industry and chamber partnership in the Go Negosyo programs, specifically in key industries that provide relief and opportunities for MSMEs through big brother mentorship and angel-trepreneurship; and adopt decentralization of planning, allocation of resources and implementation of projects and programs that will benefit the countryside.
The delegation also recommended that the government promote agri-entrepreneurship and ensure market access by providing linkages; promote food quality and safety compliance and branding, as well as advocate food safety standards and legislation with the local government units (LGUs) and regulatory bodies.
Also outlined are the recommendations to decentralize the processing and issuance of all permits of all national government agencies like Bureau of Internal Revenue, Food and Drugs Authority, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Environment and Natural Resources to reduce operational costs. They also called for reduction and simplification of document requirements for easier and convenient compliance.
The business chambers also suggested competitive tax rates at par with ASEAN. They lobbied to lower corporate income tax rate from 30 percent to 15 percent and individual income tax rate from 32 percent to 15 percent comparable with ASEAN countries to attract more foreign investments.
Likewise, the delegation also recommended for the incoming administration to adopt a National Single Window for all government agencies in processing all government permits and licenses; transparency on the stranded cost of electricity; to repeal the Cabotage Law; and to allow competition in all utilities and strengthen regulatory framework to make utility rates comparable with ASEAN counterparts.
Moreover, the Visayas business leaders also lobbied to prioritize the passage of the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) Bill; advocate for city and municipal LGUs in coordinating roads investments planning system; to propose a mass transport system for Cebu from Carcar to Danao; improve traffic management; and for the government to allocate financing of water supply projects such as the P6 billion to P7 billion Cebu Mananga 2 Dam.
The business leaders also recommended the abolishment of CARP. As for human capital development, they urged the government to mandate the private sector as the certifying body for job and occupational profile, among others.
They also recommend the establishment of provincial startup and incubation centers; increase tax incentives of innovative startups from two years to five years; and the creation of a new department—Department of the Future, to take care of strategic planning, development, and coordination of all government agencies.
Ng said the Visayas output will also be submitted to the PCCI and to Duterte’s administration for proper action.
Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda includes:
-Continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary, and trade policies.
-Institute progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection, indexing taxes to inflation. A tax reform package will be submitted to Congress by September 2016.
-Increase competitiveness and the ease of doing business. This effort will draw upon successful models used to attract business to local cities, and pursue the relaxation of the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except as regards land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investment.
-Accelerate annual infrastructure spending to account for 5% of GDP, with Public-Private Partnerships playing a key role.
-Promote rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism.
-Ensure security of land tenure to encourage investments, and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies.
-Invest in human capital development, including health and education systems, and match skills and training to meet the demand of businesses and the private sector.
-Promote science, technology, and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity towards self-sustaining, inclusive development.
-Improve social protection programs, including the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program, to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks.
-Strengthen implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.