THE business community is deepening its partnerships with local government units (LGU) across the country, with the government looking for stronger regional productivity and decentralizing investments while pushing for a shift to a federal form of government.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) on Tuesday announced plans to hold dialogues with LGUs, and ECCP President Guenter Taus noted constant communication across all sectors is important to foster sustainable inclusive growth.
“This will be a platform for enhancing communication, improving dialogue, and establishing closer public-private collaboration, between the business sector and LGUs. By having regular dialogues with the government, we will create opportunities to jointly address the challenges as far as promoting sustainable business and inclusive growth at the local level,” Taus said.
“We believe that the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the administration can be achieved only with the active participation of the LGUs. We consider LGUs as key players to create an enabling competitive environment for business expansion at the local level, particularly … creating jobs as a desired consequence.”
For his part, ECCP senior advocacy adviser Henry Schumacher said the business sector has to work together with the LGUs to ensure a stable regionalization whose economic projections and policies can be independent of Manila.
“The government is looking at decentralization and regionalization. We have started it. Federalism or not, this is how we can empower local governments. This is how we can basically create better opportunities in the regions where investments can go. We have to understand that we have to drive more investments in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Schumacher said.
“DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero has invited the ECCP to become part of a monthly dialogue, and that makes a big difference,” Schumacher noted.
Echoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand on efficient business regulation and quick process of issuing permits, Panadero said the government has a template to meet the President’s three-day processing” mandate.
“The DILG commits to do its share to help raise local capacities for easing the entry of business. We are committed to simplify application for business permits and licenses, especially in cities and capital towns, since 70 to 80 percent of our business establishments are located in those areas, and to ensure that this is done within three days with whatever form of technology the LGU is most ready to support,” Panadero said.
He said that along with automation in processing permits and other business certification, the DILG is paying close attention to fire safety permits issued by the Bureau of Fire Protection and developing a better online payment system for other special permits.
Panadero noted the private sector is also eyed as a partner in identifying priority roads that will be pursued in the process of infrastructure development.
“Poor local roads make it expensive to move people and goods, hurting competitiveness and preventing our full potential for sustained economic growth. In 2017, an allocation of around P18 billion, part of a six-year program, is being included to what is labeled conditional – matching grant to provinces for the repair and improvement of core local roads to improve connectivity and national road arteries.
“We ask all provinces to develop a Provincial Road Network Development Plan. One important process in the preparation of the PRNDP is the private sector input to identify which road matters most,” Panadero said.
“This program is a litmus test for the quality and sustainability of public fiscal management and local roads management program. The idea is to give more support to provincial governments showing performance that could pass standards and is implemented the way it was planned. There should be no shortcuts,” he added.