Prior to founding Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation (BAIC Philippines) with the Lee family of Universal Motors Corporation, George Chua had an impressive stint in the manufacturing sector.
Among the manufacturing firms he worked for were Arms Corporation of the Philippines, Precision Foundry of the Philippines Inc. (a sister firm of Armscor), Trust International Paper Corporation and Tyson/Bounty Agro Ventures Inc.
With his extensive experience in the manufacturing sector and his exposure to the automotive industry that includes 15 years as a banker servicing the financing needs of car firms, it is no wonder Chua has vast knowledge of the industrial sector and its impact on the country’s economy.
His advice to the next president of the Philippines is to focus on job generation and modernize the farming sector.
“Actually, it stems from doing what is the best for the masses. If you think about it, our biggest problem seems to be unemployment or underemployment,” Chua said.
He believes the industrial sector can provide jobs for more people from various educational backgrounds compared to the business process outsourcing sector, because most BPO firms hire those who have a college education and where being proficient in English is a universal requirement.
On the other hand, factories can employ a wider range of people from high school graduates who can work as packers or drivers, and vocational school graduates who can work as welders or in the assembly line.
Chua said alongside the establishment of factories, the government should allow small businesses to flourish. But the stricter document and tax requirements that the government is imposing on businesses can hamper the flourishing of small businesses.
“I think the next government should really focus on employment generation. We understand there’s been a lot of efforts toward raising revenues through taxes, trying to provide the conditional cash transfer for the needy, but all of these things like in the case of the heightened tax collection efforts have really been counter-productive in encouraging entrepreneurship,” he said.
“The BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] requires more reports to be submitted, so compliance is more difficult. So if you are a simple entrepreneur, you don’t have staff to do that except you,” Chua said.
He believes that the agriculture sector has not achieved progress even if the present and past administrations have implemented an agrarian reform program that has cost taxpayers billions of pesos.
“Think about it, since we launched the agrarian reform program 30 years ago, have we actually improved the situation of the farmers? No, we have not,” Chua said.
“The same people living in their same house, in their same hut are still isang kahig, isang tuka [living hand-to-mouth], and more so now. Why? Because there are no economies of scale [in the farming sector],” he added.
The president of FPI said instead of the government putting billions of pesos into the agrarian reform program and the agency that runs it, public funds should be invested to modernize the agriculture sector and provide seed money for farmers.
“Billions have been spent for the agrarian reform budget but it would have been better if those were spent for farm enrichment program, farmer education and things like that, like tractors and seed capital – things would have been better,” Chua added.