Business think tank Wallace Business Forum (WBF) said that the Aquino administration’s “lack of focus” on improving the ease of doing business in the country is the primary reason why inclusive growth is still unattained.
In a statement, WBF President and Chairman Peter Wallace said that despite the rapid economic growth of the Philippines, development still fails to trickle as “unemployment remains high.”
“If the government wants to promote inclusive growth, then it must focus on improving the ease of doing business as it is businesses that provide employment,” he said.
But a WBF roundtable with top business executives, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City said that the government is pushing for pending bills and urgent measures mostly on fiscal incentives, infrastructure development through public-private partnerships, transparency and monitoring of tax collections, as well as easing of domestic and foreign investment restrictions.
According to Drilon, Senate priorities are the “amendments to the Cabotage Law” to ease transportation of goods through water from the Philippines to other countries and vice versa, as well as the rationalization of the current mining fiscal regime. The International Monetary Fund earlier tagged the country’s local mining fiscal regime as globally uncompetitive.
Belmonte, on the other hand, said that the House of Representatives “will look into anti-trust and competition policies, anti-smuggling laws” as well as the proposed re-organization of the Bureau of Customs.
The House Speaker also asked the business sector to advise the government and share their expertise for the development of existing laws catering to the ease of doing business in the country.
“We in government [will]do our best in laying down policies to establish an environment conducive to growth in the [business]sector. [The sector] can also help by providing jobs and opportunities to all,” he added.
The two legislative leaders admitted that ease of doing business in the Philippines would improve with a change in the Constitution.
Gary Teves, former Finance secretary and current WBF managing director, suggested that more investments should come in order for the country to keep its fast growth compared to neighboring countries.
“A stable and conducive policy framework is important especially in the coming implementation of the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] integration in 2015, as well as the end of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 2014,” Teves said.