PH at forefront of business reforms in Apec
The Philippines will lead the pitch for a 5-year roadmap for structural reforms to enhance efficiency and spur business in the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) grouping.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan told the Inquirer he was confident that member-economies would give the nod to the proposed “Apec New Strategy for Structural Reform” for 2016-2020 at the end of the Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting to be held on Sept. 7-8 in Cebu City.
Structural reform entails “changing government policies and regulations so that economic transactions can be done more efficiently,” a Neda brief said.
Eliminating complex and unnecessary government processes and regulations that hinder enterprises as well as individuals from pursuing business and job opportunities here and abroad also forms part of the reform process.
Another characteristic of structural reform is providing perks to companies and individuals so they would compete and innovate to churn out quality goods and services at competitive prices, according to the Neda.
Structural reform also means “changing regulations and policies to ensure that economic activities of firms and individuals do not cause harm to others, [while] protecting the welfare of smaller players and vulnerable groups,” the Neda said.
Balisacan disclosed that the Apec New Strategy for Structural Reform 2016-2020 will have three pillars:
- First, further opening up of markets, integrating markets, and making markets more competitive and transparent not only within an economy but also across economies. “We will continue efforts to open up all markets—financial, goods, investment, services, even labor—and provide access to market opportunities to member-economies,” Balisacan said.
- Second, deepening the participation of all groups of society in markets, especially of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). “SMEs are quite significant and critical to economies as they have direct bearing on communities, particularly in terms of access to employment opportunities. Since SMEs are labor intensive, we should bring SMEs into the global supply chain in pursuit of inclusiveness in the area of employment,” Balisacan explained.
- And lastly, setting up social policies needed to advance resiliency and sustainability. “For instance, our country is so vulnerable to natural hazards. We can be doing a lot of work in the first two pillars but if we don’t have social policies that will help people recover quickly when they are hit hard by disasters, then those gains can be quickly eroded. The ability of economies to recover quickly and put in place measures that help them adapt to climate change and natural hazards is key,” Balisacan pointed out.
The Neda chief noted that “as far as the Philippines is concerned, those themes and pillars …are very much supportive of our own development goals.”
For instance, Balisacan noted that the Aquino administration is developing human capital through conditional cash transfer (CCT), while increasing spending on health and education.
Also, the government has been incorporating resiliency through its “build back better” thrust, the Neda chief added.
Balisacan said structural reform should have been done in the Philippines two or three decades ago. “If we did this before, we should have been a country like South Korea today,” he said.
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