Our unique moment


John Tria John Tria

Despite many challenges and high inflation, the IMF forecasts that we will still be growing at five percent this year. As a non-economist, I cannot delve into deeper analysis of this growth. What matters is that as a country, our economy needs to keep growing despite whatever headwinds and challenges we face. The same is true with our businesses. We all need to keep growing.

Thus, in some realities on the ground that I see, and in a few conversations I have had with business leaders, I have identified some possible insights which may point the way toward improvements or even solutions to sustain our own growth as businesses. These things, I hope and believe can help make us resilient.

For one, the post pandemic surge provides an environment for growth, as revenge travel and spending will drive incomes for businesses. Yet the pandemic also brought lessons and an increased impetus for many entrepreneurs to innovate and adapt in order to face the uncertainties posed by increased costs, more difficulties in shipping products and importing raw materials

The new policy environment that has slowly taken root with reforms such as the CREATE Law that lowers corporate income taxes, the Amended Public Service Act and Foreign Investments Act that open the door for more foreign capital have given many of us brighter hopes for attracting investments both foreign and local that can bolster the growth of local economies. This gives confidence for investment, and encourages companies to pre-invest some funds in expansion that in turn, attracts more investments. What must be done is for business groups and civil society organizations to engage agencies implementing these amended provisions to promote investments.

Apart from this, I believe it is improved public infrastructure that allowed better connectivity between many Visayas and Mindanao cities. The increased mobility prompts investments in private infrastructure. Already the skyline is rising with building projects that allow investors to enter, by putting in place office, commercial and residential spaces for those eager to start operations. These in volumes we have not seen since these cities were founded. Despite the uncertainties. the interest is clear.

Moreover, more digitalization of transactions allowed faster trade. Just look at the new digital banks and digital finance startups increasing their lending portfolios. A well-managed digital finance sector will encourage more to enter the formal financial system by increasing the ease in setting up bank accounts In turn, having formal bank accounts allow smaller businesses, especially in the countryside to access better financing that can drive innovation and adaptation. Again, despite the uncertainties, desire to log on, buy and sell remain strong.

The recent Telenor survey (https://mb.com.ph/2023/01/31/telenor-study-asians-switching-off-by-switching-on/) already indicates accelerated use of online systems replacing face to face transactions in daily life. The digital realm may have its risks, but the opportunity to access information, knowledge, networks and financing at the click of a button reduces the normal cost and effort to do this, exposing our small entrepreneurs to a wider world of finance and trade. How digital connectivity can be harnessed further will also depend on rolling out the infrastructure in remote areas. We look forward to this.
With these developments, we are indeed at a unique moment that allows us to see further through the digital world with the help a bold new policy environment.

With these in mind, let me congratulate my fellow officers and trustees of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the occasion of the recent induction and installation of officers. The work to help build an inclusive and resilient economy has begun!