By Chino S. Leyco
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has told Swiss investors now is the right time for them to set up shop in the Philippines when it has a president who has both the political will and capital to pursue bold reforms.
During a recent meeting with members of the Philippine-Swiss Business Council, Dominguez said the Duterte administration is determined to sustain the nation’s economic growth momentum and improve the ease of doing business in the country.
Dominguez also said that the government would transform the country into one of the world’s top investment destinations.
The finance official added that initial reforms have already borne fruit, citing the record collections of the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC) two months into the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law this year.
He said “this is a good time to do tax reform because we have a leader with both the political will and the political capital to bring about meaningful change. President Rodrigo Duterte has thrown his full support behind the tax reform effort.”
“This is the best time to do reform. It allows us the leisure to carefully calibrate the reform measures for optimal economic impact. Free from any pressing economic distress, we have the opportunity to rally public support for this program,” Dominguez said.
“We are able to look far into the future and build towards the inclusive and dynamic economy our people deserve,” he added during their meeting.
Dominguez said both the BIR and Customs have exceeded their revenue collection targets in the first two months of the year since the TRAIN began implementation on January 1.
The Customs bureau raised its collections by 26.5 percent and the BIR by 10.8 percent for the first two months of 2018 as against the same period last year.
The finance chief said the government remains on track to push the economy’s growth rate to seven percent or better this year, and attain its goal of investment-led growth and more inclusive development.
“We hope Swiss businesses could find a home here — a happy one. We are working very hard to improve the ease of doing business and reducing our (Foreign) Investment Negative List to the bare minimum,” Dominguez said.
“From being mocked as ‘The Sick Man of Asia,’ the Philippines is now seen as the region’s next economic powerhouse,” he added.
The finance chief said the Philippines’ “young and talented labor force, our large consumer market and our determined participation in building a Southeast Asian common market produce much headroom for sustainable growth.”
Dominguez issued the call as Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Andrea Reichlin commended the Philippine government for implementing the TRAIN’s provisions, which she described as “potential game changers,” as well as for being voted recently as the world’s No. 1 “Best Country to Invest In” by global business decision makers.
“I think everybody has read the results of the (survey published by) Business Insider. We should give a round of applause for having the Philippines on the first, I think this is the first time in history,” Reichlin said at the start of the meeting.
The ambassador was referring to a recent survey conducted by the US News and World Report in coordination with the Wharton School of Business and Y&R’s BAV Group and published by Business Insider on its website.
The survey, which ranked the Philippines as the world’s No. 1 “Best Country to Invest In,” was conducted among more than 6,000 business decision makers and used World Bank data to come up with the results.