As they invited the presidential candidates to present their platforms, leaders of the recent Philippine Business Conference submitted a 10-point proposal for post-pandemic economic recovery.
Their proposals covered the following: 1) Institutionalize innovation for economic development, 2) Open the economy now and assist businesses to create new jobs, 3) Fully implement ease of doing business, 4) Fast-track internet connectivity at competitive rates, 5) Modernize agriculture for food security, 6) Innovate and digitize the education system, 7) Balance industry growth and environmental protection, 8) Assure adequate power supply at a competitive cost, 9) Make infrastructure a cornerstone of economic development, and 10) Fast track the completion as scheduled of all infrastructure projects under the Build Build Build program and ensure transparency in the bids and awards of contracts.
Five candidates accepted their invitation and shared their priority action plans if elected to office.
Rebuilding trust and confidence in the government precedes the government’s ability to restore the economy on an even keel, according to Vice President Leni Robredo. She lined up a P216 billion ‘ayuda’ package to protect needy families from hunger complemented by a P100 billion assistance to speed up the recovery of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Senator Panfilo Lacson said that clean government is the foundation for earning the people’s trust. He vowed to sign a waiver to the bank secrecy law on his first day in office and encourage all Cabinet members to follow suit. Senator Manny Pacquiao promised to jail all corrupt government officials.
Providing incentives and stimulus packages also ranked high in their agenda. Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso promised to reduce petroleum and electricity taxes, saying that this would enable higher consumer spending and enable faster recovery from the deep recession. To develop the countryside, Moreno said local government units must partner with government financial institutions to securitize future windfall earnings from their expanded share of internal revenue taxes that should, in turn, be deployed to extend financial assistance to MSMEs with zero interest. Senator Christopher Go said he would also continue implementing the Negosyo Centers, the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso as well as the easy to access loan services to MSMEs of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Most of the candidates also addressed the improvement of the health infrastructure whose weaknesses were exposed by the pandemic’s onslaught and constrained government to impose protracted lockdowns that proved inimical to businesses, aside from displacing thousands of workers. Also brought into focus was the need for more people-centric infrastructure and improved public transport services that would also be environment-friendly.
The business sector is keenly assessing the candidates’ platforms and measuring their capacity to bring about economic recovery as well as fortify the nation’s resiliency for meeting the formidable challenges that lie ahead. The next President will serve until 2028, the midpoint of the 25-year AmBisyon Natin 2040 long-term development program that charts the Filipinos’ quest for a strongly rooted, comfortable and secure life.
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