Gov’t prodded on economic reforms

Local, foreign chambers list critical recommendations

By: Amy R. Remo, July 5th, 2013 03:21 AM

A newly constructed road in Benguet in the Cordilleras. The country’s biggest business groups and the Joint Foreign Chambers have asked the Aquino administration to implement critical and strategic measures, including strategic transportation infrastructure projects, that will enable the Philippines to continue being one of Asia’s fast-rising economies. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

The country’s biggest business groups and the Joint Foreign Chambers have asked the Aquino administration to implement critical and strategic measures that will enable the Philippines to continue being one of Asia’s fast-rising economies.

In a joint letter to President Aquino, the business groups outlined a slew of recommendations concerning infrastructure, power and regulatory and policy reforms aimed at generating the “greatest impact in achieving our shared vision of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction and global competitiveness.”

Signatories to the letter dated June 19 were the Makati Business Club, Alyansa Agrikultura, American Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Japan Chamber of Commerce, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Management Association of the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Korean Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.

One of the recommendations is the enactment of an effective anti-trust law and competition policy to create a level playing field and, in turn, encourage more productive investments in light of an impending Asean integration in 2015.

“There are several laws and issuances which do not address the complexities of the current market conditions and as well result in overlapping jurisdictions and conflicts. Thus, we see the need for a single comprehensive law,” the groups said in the letter.

They also underscored the need to “overhaul the Bureau of Customs and to create an oversight body with private sector representation” as smuggling continued to derail government efforts on revenue collection and job generation. They claimed that the government was losing more than P100 billion a year from smuggling.

Strategic transportation infrastructure projects must likewise be accelerated and implemented at the soonest time, they added. These projects include the development of the country’s main international gateway, decongestion of the Port of Manila and the connection of NLEx and SLEx.

“We also strongly urge the rationalization of existing incentive-giving laws to further spur investments in crucial and strategic sectors, especially those that will help generate jobs and enhance global competitiveness,” the groups stressed.

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