Aquino seeks business sector’s help
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday acknowledged that a lot of work has to be done in reforming the power sector and decongesting the Manila port, both pressing concerns that the business sector raised at an annual gathering of local and international industry and government leaders.
At the 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC), business leaders presented Mr. Aquino their wish list—which they call “resolutions”—for the government to address problems concerning energy and power, education and human resources development, the 2015 integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the port and traffic congestion, transportation and infrastructure, agriculture and the rehabilitation of Eastern Visayas, which was battered by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last year.
In his speech, the President said the resolutions “represent your sector’s vision of building a more progressive nation,” and expressed appreciation for bringing them to the attention of the government.
However, he also urged the business sector to do its part while government “strategizes for the future.”
President Aquino noted that while the government’s solutions to the Manila port congestion has relatively been effective, “in reality, the situation is far more complex.”
He said the Bureau of Customs and the port operators have been open on weekends to facilitate movement of cargo but data from the Philippine Ports Authority showed that very few business entities have taken advantage of the extended working hours.
The President said only “an average 1,100 containers are moved on Sundays, which represent less than a third of the average number of containers moved on other days of the week.”
“The government can only do so much: Our main purpose is to be an enabler. That being the case, solutions require the enabled—in this case the private sector—to reciprocate through active participation,” he said.
‘Change the business model’
One PBC resolution urged the national government “to formulate an integrated and sustainable energy and power development roadmap with a clear, definite target level of power supply capacity and rate.”
“Efforts to reform the power industry, as embodied in Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act), are still a work in progress, and this is understandable, given the fact that our power industry is really a unique industry,” the President said.
He urged the private sector to follow the lead of some “major entities” which have invested in the power sector “without long-term power purchase agreements or power supply contracts.”
He said this was unlike the industry practice where power plants “have typically sold all of their output” even before the facility has been constructed.
“Just-in-time supplies of energy do not engender more investments. Therefore, there is a need to change the business model, and that is also a work in progress. The work will be infinitely faster and more efficient with the cooperation of the business sector,” he said.
One of the PBC’s resolutions included urging the national government to have strategies and programs to allow Philippine brands and small and medium enterprises to become competitive as the Asean integration takes place next year.
Emphasizing the need to solve the traffic congestion in the country’s capital, the businessmen suggested that the national government, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the local governments in Metro Manila instill discipline among road users, promote road-use efficiency and safety, enforce pick-up and drop-off points for passengers and designate terminals for public utility vehicles.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.