Foreign chambers seek action plans
Poverty alleviation, infrastructure and economic reforms were the common and resounding advocacies being pushed by representatives of four presidential candidates at the Fifth Arangkada Assessment Forum 2016 on Tuesday.
Former Finance Secretary Gary Teves represented Vice President Jejomar Binay in Tuesday’s forum, Rep. Romero Quimbo for former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian for Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Businessmen, however, were not convinced as they heard motherhood statements on solving problems that have hounded the country for years.
Julian Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said he was not satisfied with the answers that the representatives gave with regards to addressing issues pertaining to foreign investment restrictions.
Ryan Evangelista, executive director at the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, noted that the issues tackled by the spokespersons remained the same. He added that he would have wanted to hear were the action plans that would enable the Philippines to move forward toward a more inclusive growth in the next decade.
Teves noted that poverty remained the most pressing problem in the country today and that a Binay presidency would be able to address this concern by giving the much needed priority on jobs, income, food, infrastructure and governance.
In a comprehensive presentation, Teves laid down the platform of Binay, who reportedly sought to give priority to key sectors that could deliver inclusive growth, namely agriculture; manufacturing and exports, and micro, small and medium sized enterprises; lower personal and corporate income tax rates; raise infrastructure spending to 7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and amend the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution to enable the entry of more foreign direct investments in the country.
Binay’s platform, which contained mostly the foreign business community’s wish list, also sought to enable the country’s participation in regional and global preferential trade deals; further ease doing business in the country; resolve the worsening traffic situation; invest in human capital development, among others.
Speaking for Poe, Gatchalian also focused on poverty, noting the wide disparities and income inequalities.
Poe’s poverty alleviation program, according to Gatchalian, has six components–enterprise development; boosting manufacturing and tourism; human development through quality healthcare and education; political empowerment and participatory development; establishment of a social protection floor, and the expansion of the conditional cash transfer program.
Quimbo, on behalf of Roxas, stressed the significance of continuing the much celebrated reforms and Daang Matuwid advocacy under the Aquino administration.
“What can you expect with the continuation of the Daang Matuwid? The ease of doing business. With ease of doing business, you get to be more competitive and competition means more opportunities for our people, leading to stable incomes. This means more revenues for the government to invest in human resources and leading to a virtuous cycle of inclusive growth,” Quimbo said.
Cayetano, for his part, zeroed in on what Duterte has largely been known for—instilling peace and order in Davao, stressing that this was one of the core issues hounding investors wanting to set up their offices here.
Other concerns, according to Cayetano, were corruption, consistent and reliable public policies, and infrastructure, among others.
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