By CHINO S. LEYCO
DAVAO CITY— Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has called on stakeholders in the agribusiness sector to think out of the box and come up with bold ideas to help the government wake Philippine agriculture from its stupor.
At the Sulong Pilipinas Agribusiness Summit 2019, Dominguez said in his speech that stakeholders’ help is needed to transform the local farm sector into a key growth driver of the Philippine economic and accelerate “to a full gallop.”
Dominguez said that while President Duterte has demonstrated decisive leadership in passing agriculture-friendly reforms such as the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), more policy initiatives are needed to enable the farm sector to reach its full potential.
The RTL has lowered the retail cost of rice for over 100 million consumers and established an annual ₱10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is meant to boost rice productivity.
Dominguez, a former agriculture chief, also said the rollout of productivity-enhancement programs under RCEP will slash farmers’ crop production costs and increase their yields.
To encourage the establishment of more agribusiness enterprises and make the farm sector more attractive and viable for the next generation of “agripreneurs,” Dominguez added that Congress needs to pass the remaining tax reform packages.
Among these measures are the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA), which aims to gradually reduce the corporate income tax (CIT) from 30 percent to 20 percent.
As agriculture secretary during the late President Corazon Aquino’s administration, Dominguez also said he is aware that the government needs to work closely with stakeholders in this sector.
He said that is why the final edition of Sulong Pilipinas for this year gathered the country’s agribusiness stakeholders in Davao City to come up with actionable recommendations on how to jumpstart agricultural growth.
“The economic team is earnestly looking forward to the solutions you might arrive at in the course of this meeting. We encourage you to think out of the box and to propose bold ideas. The country benefits from a political leadership that does not fear change,” Dominguez said.
“This is the moment to break out from the structures that trapped so many Filipinos in poverty for far too long,” Dominguez told over 600 agribusiness stakeholders gathered at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang district.
Sulong Pilipinas is a consultative forum between the government and the private sector that started in June 2016 even before then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte took over as President.