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Trade groups hail poll results

PCCI calls for biz optimism, JFC vows cooperation with new gov’t 

The country’s biggest business groups called for optimism following the May 9 elections and said businesses should stay positive in this time of political changes.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) commended the Commission on Elections (Comelec), National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) for keeping watch over the national and local polls.

It also urged citizens to give the incoming administration of presumptive President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and leading vice-presidential bet Sara Duterte-Carpio time to draw up and share its plans to make the country more progressive.

While the group characterized the election as “generally peaceful and credible,” concerns over how the new government will manage the country’s financial woes was at the top of their worries.

“The president elect Bongbong Marcos will be faced with the same financial challenges due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and lately the geopolitical storm in Ukraine similar to other countries’ debt and inflation issues,” PCCI president George Barcelon said.

“But we know better our macroeconomic fundamentals are intact and the economic reforms of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration,” he added.

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) congratulated the Philippines for showing the strength of its democracy during the campaign period and elections.

“As business chambers, we hope to continue to work closely with government officials at all levels throughout the country for the recovery from the pandemic and to maintain high levels of GDP growth, infrastructure development, job creation, and FDI inflows best achieved by continuing the governance and policies of the current and previous administrations,” the JFC said.

The JFC is a coalition of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, Korean chambers and PAMURI (Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.).

It represents over 3,000 member companies with around $100 billion worth of trade and some $30 billion worth of investments in the Philippines.

The JFC supports and promotes open international trade, increased foreign investment, and improved conditions for business to benefit both the Philippines and the countries the JFC members represent.

East West Banking Corp. president and chief executive Antonio Moncupa Jr. said the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections “was positive for the economy.

“On the other hand, there are considerable headwinds facing the economy — geopolitical uncertainties, inflation, and the lingering effects of the pandemic. Let’s all wish the new administration well in meeting these challenges,” Moncupa said.

Earlier, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said the incoming administration would inherit a better economy but at the same time face higher debt as the government borrowed more to finance infrastructure projects and its COVID-19 response.

In an interview with ANC on Monday, Diokno said the next administration would be inheriting a sound tax system which was reformed many times under the Duterte administration.

The next administration would also be the recipient of many structural reforms like the amendments of the Retail Trade Act, Foreign Investment Act, and Public Services Act, he said.

“In other words, the next administration will inherit a much better economy than what we inherited from the previous one, but at the same time, it is faced with increasing public debt as a result of the COVID pandemic,” Diokno said.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort, meanwhile, said the rule of law and continuation of economic and fiscal reforms will be among the key factors for the next administration to become successful, sustain economic recovery and attract more investments.

The rule of law is a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions, and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.

It requires equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.

Ricafort said investors would be evaluating the incoming administration’s platforms, policies, and reforms, focusing on the members of the Cabinet and the economic team.

Ricafort also said the next administration must focus on economic recovery measures from the pandemic such as the re-opening of the economy, creation of more jobs, improving the government’s fiscal position, increased infrastructure spending, among others; promote greater inclusion and unity among politicians; and improved diplomatic relations with the biggest trading partners and sources of foreign investments.

Diokno said before the pandemic, the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio was in the neighborhood of 39.6 percent but rose to 60.5 percent because of the COVID-19 response, and the accompanying drop in revenues.

But Diokno said the current debt level was still pretty much manageable as long as the economy grows between 6 to 7 percent in the next few years.

Diokno said the next administration’s first order of business could be to present to the people and to the international community a fiscal consolidation program, to reduce the deficit-to-GDP ratio which has increased due to the pandemic.

The latest data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that the country’s total outstanding debt as of end-March 2022 further increased to a record P12.68 trillion from P12.09 trillion in end-February 2022, due to more government borrowings to finance infrastructure projects and COVID-19 response efforts.

The economy is projected to grow between 7 and 9 percent this year, stronger than the actual 5.7 percent in 2021, which was a reversal of the 9.6-percent contraction in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Energy stakeholders expressed support to the incoming administration as it pushed for further the development of renewable energy.

Tetchi Capellan, Philippine Solar and Storage Energy Alliance (PSSEA) chairman, said the industry welcomes Marcos’s position on renewable energy.

“We take note of (presumptive) President Marcos’ strong support for renewables and trust that his strong mandate and popularity will strengthen his resolve to select the best candidate for the energy sector,” the official said.

“We also look forward to working with the new energy secretary as well as with Senator (Sherwin) Gatchalian as chair of the Senate Committee on Energy,” Capellan said.

Arnel Ty of the LPG Marketers Association said the industry needs to support all the candidates that are voted to their position as it is the decision of the people.

“We in the energy sector will support the economic recovery of our country, we need to work hand in hand,” Ty said.

 

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