Business ‘wish list’ on Duterte’s last SONA

Published July 26, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The business sector wished that President Rodrigo on his last State of the Nation Address today, July 26, will direct Congress to pass various pending economic reforms and commit that the executive department will act on several issues to ensure government and the private sector can work towards recovery and sustained economic performance.

In a letter to the President, three major business organizations led by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), outlined their wish list for the President’s last SONA .

PCCI Acting President Edgardo G. Lacson

For Congress, the business groups would like Duterte to direct legislators to act on the low hanging fruits by passing three major pending bills – Public Services Act amendments, Open Access in Data Transmission Act, and Amendments to the Magna Carts for MSMEs.

Other pending legislative measures include the Philippine Ports Authority Charter amendment, Warehouse Receipts Act, Apprenticeship Training System Act, Amendment to the Dual Training System Act of 1994, Amendment to the Agri-Agra Law, Free Index-Based Agricultural Insurance, amendments to the ASIN law, Customs Amnesty Act, National Quality Infrastructure Act,  P3 Microfinancing for micro entrepreneurs, amendments to the FDA Act, Sustainable Forest Management Act, National Land Use and Management  Act, Department of Disaster Resilience, and Department of Water.

“There had been many delays already in pushing for these reforms as government and private sector got sidetracked by disasters and hazards,” they groups noted. “It has become more urgent then to double time to enact the measures.”

Likewise, the three groups also said that crucial for the MSMEs are the ease of doing business, skills and education, infrastructure, environment and agri-related bulls to help institutionalize reforms and accelerate developments in these sectors.

For the executive branch, businessmen would like the President to direct the Department of Finance to fund the continuing implementation and maintenance of the TradeNet to lower cost and ease in export and import document processing; facilitate the remaining documentation and process for the implementation of ATA Carnet system once approved; and prioritize farm/fishing areas to market roads and agri and aqua-culture infrastructure in Build Build Build program.

For the Department of Health, the President was urged to ensure that vaccination especially for economic frontliners is prioritized to help reopent he economy and bring back and increase employment and livelihood activities.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines

The DOH must also set up quarantine facilities in every barangay to accommodate isolation of positive cases from their families so the rest can go on with their livelihood; and implement full computerization of the Food and Drugs administration to facilitate licenses and permit to operate.

The President was also asked to direct the Department of Interior and Local Government to attend the pending issues on PNP regulated chemicals as part of trade facilitation and easing of doing business.

The groups also pressed for the increased export promotion funds of the Department of Trade and Indutry to help in the recovery of exporters and for the Department of Energy to ensure competitive pricing of in view of the limited power source.

On labor, the Department of Labor and Employment must also be flexible in dealing with calamities and unforeseen health issues for employers to sustain business and maintain jobs.

Likewise, they reiterate to expand the membership of the Inter Agency Task Force to include private sector participation in the planning and formulation of specific guidelines on quarantine policies and protocols so as not to compromise the life and livelihood of the people.

“Together with the assistance from the administration, we believe that these reforms will help us achieve our shared vision of inclusive growth that is high and sustained, generates massive employment and ultimately reduces poverty,” the groups’ letter concluded.

PhilExport Chairman George T. Barcelon

Amid the evolving health and economic crisis, the business groups said they remained optimistic and steadfast in achieving economic recovery.

PCCI Acting President Edgardo G. Lacson, ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., and PhilExport Chairman George T. Barcelon signed the letter appeal on  behalf of the mostly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.