Critical and strategic priority policies for economic dynamism
First, allow me to thank Fred Pascual for accepting again to serve the country, this time as secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). I know Secretary Fred, that you will continue to serve our country well for “good men never tire of doing good.”
As far as I am concerned, as the saying goes, I am “a collateral damage” after Secretary Fred accepted the DTI position. Anyway, allow me to briefly say a few things about myself, to many who do not know me. I never ran away from any challenges or meaningful assignments in my life. In fact, of all my previous assignments, the ones I enjoyed most were the nontraditional and challenging work.
For example, shortly after I graduated from UP Diliman many moons ago, as an industrial engineer, instead of working in a production factory, I accepted an assignment in a nongovernmental organization, promoting rhythm family planning method to targeted provinces, to be responsible parents in producing babies. Come to think of it, it’s still production.
Shortly after, I was tasked to set up the management and operating systems of then newly built Development Academy of the Philippines Training Center in Tagaytay, and eventually assuming full responsibility in managing the training center as the first resident manager. The other assignments were similarly nonconventional: my getting actively involved in various capacities in the implementation of the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, putting into full operations the conversion of the former US military base lands, that included Subic Bay, Clark, John Hay and Poro Point. I was also directly involved in the privatization of the Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base into the country’s premier business centers.
The only traditional but equally challenging assignment of late, was the full six-year term as secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) from 2010 to 2016. But even then, I had to completely overhaul the public’s perception of DPWH, both inside the department and outside, including the Congress. This was to ensure that everyone understood our new thrust: implement good governance principles and transparent and competitive procurement; reduce corruption; and ensure the use of government’s scarce resources for the right projects, right cost and right quality.
As the new Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) president for the next six months, I would like to seek the support of all MAP members, in their individual capacities, and as leaders of your companies and spheres of influence—to help make the voice of MAP, in what MAP boards under previous presidents Fred Pascual and Gigi Montinola had prepared, a critical and strategic policy agenda for the administration of President Marcos.
We all agreed that there has to be a strong collaboration and partnership between the public and the private sectors, to create a more just, inclusive and compassionate society. The public sector cannot be expected to do it alone, without a meaningful engagement of the private sector, particularly the captains of industry and business—to work together for the common good.
To help in this collaboration, the MAP will be undertaking, what an expert calls “advocacy communications plan” and a lot of lobbying and engagement.
So let me briefly mention these critical and strategic priority policies for economic dynamism, that the MAP board has identified:
1. Education: to address the country’s urgent education crisis particularly to strengthen basic education;
2. Health: to make quality health care accessible to every Filipino;
3. Agriculture and agribusiness: to achieve an agriculture and agribusiness sector marked by high productivity and international competitiveness, that ensures food security for all Filipinos;
4. Trade and industry: to ensure trade and industry policy environment, that fosters level competition, lowers cost of doing business and encourages productivity-enhancing innovations; and to ensure Filipinos’ wide access to quality goods and services at lower and stable prices;
5. Infrastructure: to sustain the gains of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the past administrations, by prioritizing infrastructure of greatest strategic importance, and resume active public-private partnerships in infrastructure development;
6. Labor and employment: to institutionalize labor flexibility and welfare, through executive action and legislation for quick employment generation, and recognize that labor market and employment policies are a critical ingredient in the enabling environment for investments;
7. Fiscal and financial policies: to ensure that fiscal and financial policies must be supportive of business enterprises, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, to promote wider job generation, particularly in the countryside;
8. Finally, justice: that justice and rule of law must be upheld, if business confidence is to be sustained, and the general population to live in an atmosphere of peace and security; particularly ensuring government transparency, zero tolerance for corruption, faith in government institutions, upholding civil liberties and freedom of the press.
Aside from these areas, let me share what the MAP’s human and management development committee created with expert panelists, as they recently discussed Nick Poblador’s views from his book “A New Age of Capitalism in the Philippines,” and MAP’s strong support for micro and small enterprises.
The discussion was in line with the MAP 2022 theme of “Push for change: Towards a Better Future for All,” particularly on the main thrust of shared prosperity and sustainability.
In particular, we will advocate and practice as an organization the following policies:
1. Propose to Trade Secretary Pascual and other concerned government agencies, both national and local levels, to substantially deregulate micro and small enterprises; let them grow as fast as they can, instead of harassing them, to contribute to the economy and employment generation; there is no need to spend scarce government resources trying to regulate them;
2. For big business and government institutions to support micro and small enterprises in their procurement of supplies and materials, and ensure timely payment within 30 days or shorter, but not pay them in 90 or 120 days to help them from predatory lenders;
3. Promote micro and small enterprises, and make room for them in government purchases and supply requirements both at the national and local levels;
4. Freeze all field tax audits of micro and small enterprises, unless an apparent crime is being committed to avoid huge friction cost and source of harassment.
In closing, there is agreement that the captains of industry and business leaders cannot continue on using the traditional shareholders interest and financial bottom line as measure of their success, but how the enterprise contributes for the wider stakeholders, to the general public and its contribution to nation-building. In particular, measure their contribution to the economy, to social justice, addressing the bottom 40-percent poor, good governance and the protection of the environment and mother Earth.
Finally, as your MAP president, with your engagement and cooperation, I would like to offer myself as the MAP’s principal lobbyist, to push our priority and strategic policies for a more just and compassionate society, for shared prosperity and for the common good. INQ
This was lifted from the inaugural address delivered recently by the author as MAP president. He is president and CEO of Metro Pacific Water. He previously served as Public Works Secretary. Feedback at [email protected] and [email protected]
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