[Delivered on Sept. 3, 2015, in the Wallace Business Forum at Makati Shangri-la.]
PEOPLE have been asking about my plans for the Philippines and how we plan to replicate our success in Makati all over the country.
First of all, allow me to talk about the Makati model of governance. Makati’s history is not about me, or the Binay family, but about the strong partnership between the local government and the business sector, including major developers.
The LGU’s role is to provide the policy environment that will make the city more conducive to business and attract investors who will help stimulate the economy/as they develop industries that generate thousands of jobs.
The revenues generated from these companies are then used by Makati to fund operational expenses, salaries of employees, and local projects and programs covering education, health, and social welfare.
As former city mayor, I have always upheld the belief that it is the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor who don’t normally benefit from economic growth immediately.
Through the social programs implemented by Makati, we were able to ensure that the poor citizens shared in the fruits of the city’s progress.
As Makati grew into the country’s financial and central business district, the city government was able to collect increased revenues from the business sector.
Accordingly, Makati’s budget for social projects and programs also grew. Economic growth, therefore, became more inclusive.
Business sector support
Can we implement a similar program nationwide? Yes, with political will and the support of a strong and vibrant business sector.
We will be able to provide more Filipinos with the same kind of benefits as that of Makati’s if we implement, on a nationwide scale, market-oriented and pro-business measures that allow firms to flourish.
My long experience in local governance, however, has also taught me the importance of continuity, predictability, and sustainability. Development is a product of continued implementation of good reforms, imbedded with new ones.
For instance, we should strive to further improve the country’s competitiveness rankings. From 2011 to 2015, the Philippines has moved up a total of 53 notches in the Ease of Doing Business report. We shall continue reforms, spearheaded by the national competitiveness council, in order to push the country in the top third of the global rankings in 2016.
We shall continue to implement the PPP program as long as the projects are above-board and will truly benefit Filipinos.
We shall actively push for the enactment of pending bills, such as amendments to the build-operate-transfer law and the right-of-way bill, to address the inadequacies and several delays experienced under the current administration.
What can business sector expect
What can the business sector expect from a Binay presidency?
I do not just plan or promise, I get things done.
We shall periodically meet and consult with the business sector to listen to your thoughts and insights. We shall allow businessmen, our partners in economic growth and development, to freely say the good and the bad. Together, we can arrive at more win-win situations.
We shall also convene the legislative executive development advisory council or LEDAC, and the judicial executive legislative advisory council or JELAC, as often as necessary, but at least quarterly. This will have the following benefits:
• Promote a better understanding on key issues requiring the support of the judiciary and Congress;
• Facilitate a consensus and even faster, but sound, decisions on key policy issues; and
• Project a favorable image among our people and the local / international investor community that the three branches of government are working closely together. For instance, the controversy over the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP could have been prevented or even resolved properly if only the President had consulted the judiciary and legislative branches.
We are committed to long-term policies and programs to strengthen the partnership between business and government. We are going to be decisive but will not change policies mid-way.
We shall honor the sanctity of contracts, which was not displayed in the contracts of this administration with the MRT-3 maintenance provider, among others.
There shall be a sense of urgency in all government processes required in the business registration system. From 16 steps over 34 days, we shall work toward reducing it to six steps over eight days to further improve the country’s competitiveness. If the basic requirements have been met, then provisional permits shall be issued. If there is no decision from a certain department/agency within a certain number of days, the application should be as good as approved so as not to stall the process.
Most of all, we shall make sure that all Cabinet officials are the best and the brightest in their area of specialization, with vast experience in professional and public management, and guided mainly by competence, integrity, and decisiveness. We shall bring in former Cabinet and senior government members. And under a Binay administration, there will be no politicians in my Cabinet.
We are often perceived as populist because of our pro-poor image and the social programs that we implemented in Makati, and even today, at the office of the vice president.
However, we take a pragmatic approach on administration and development.
We will endeavor to make the Philippines a more competitive business and investment destination by:
1. Opening up our economy to foreign investments. We believe that our economic restrictions adversely affect the Philippines’ ability to attract more foreign direct investments. Therefore, at the start of a Binay administration, we will immediately push for amendments in the economic provisions of the Constitution. This move will make our economic growth more investment-driven rather than consumption-driven.
2. Accelerate infrastructure development to boost tourism and address traffic congestion. The Philippines has plenty of tourism gems that are not as accessible due to our poor network of roads, public transport, bridges, ports, and airports.
If I become president, my administration will hit the ground running to close the infrastructure gap as quickly as possible. Infrastructure spending should be at least five percent of GDP.
From my experience as an executive, we shall focus on the proper implementation and monitoring of government projects and programs. This, in turn, will help attract more capital, generate more jobs, and provide additional revenues to enable the state to take better care of our poor and marginalized countrymen.
This way, together, we will be able to achieve our economic agenda for the country: sustainable and shared economic growth.
Today, in Makati. Tomorrow, in the entire country.