Traders await Aquino policy statementBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The business community is hoping to hear President Aquino’s plans on infrastructure, mining, power and employment for the second half of his term during his State-of-the-Nation Address on Monday.
These sectors are believed to be among the biggest growth drivers that will sustain the robust growth of the Philippine economy.
“We want to hear statements on infrastructure, power, mining and what the government will be able to do with the SMEs (small and medium enterprises). We would like to hear President Aquino say that the laws will be pursued,” said Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport).
Ortiz-Luis said they wanted to hear a clear-cut timeline on the bidding of various infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership program (PPP) of the government. Since the flagship program’s launching, there has been only three projects auctioned so far.
The business community is also hoping to hear firmer plans that will address the shortage in power supply, particularly in Mindanao, which suffered daily rotating brownouts earlier this year. It is also expected that by 2016, power supply in Luzon will be tight unless new power plants come in.
“Hopefully, the President will also mention SMEs in his Sona, as to how he can help solve financing issues, for instance,” Ortiz-Luis said.
He said there was a need to focus on the SMEs as these represented 99 percent of the businesses in the Philippines and could generate the much-needed job opportunities for Filipinos, particularly those in the rural areas.
To ensure that financing is given to the SMEs, there is a need to delegate an official to ensure the compliance of banks to allot 10 percent of their loan portfolio to SMEs. Some banks, according to Ortiz-Luis, have found ways to circumvent the law.
Ortiz-Luis also underscored the need to pass progressive labor codes in the Congress, where 110 bills relating to this issue are pending.
Last month, the country’s biggest business groups and the Joint Foreign Chambers sent a letter to President Aquino, asking his administration to implement critical and strategic measures that will enable the Philippines to continue being one of Asia’s fast-rising economies.
The recommendations concerned infrastructure, power and regulatory and policy reforms, which are aimed at generating the “greatest impact in achieving our shared vision of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction and global competitiveness.”