A House leader has raised the alarm on the country’s readiness, or lack of it, en route to the Asean Economic Integration in 2015 which will implement zero tariff on goods and services transported within the Asean region.
Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, noted that concerned government agencies should brief the Congress on how the Philippines is gearing up for the Asean Economic Community in 2015 which will be composed of 600 million consumers.
“A year from now, there will be a free flow of goods and services in Asean. As for the manpower, we will have an edge because of our strong command of the English language, but how would our local manufacturers fare in this? If we are not ready, our factories could close. We should find ways to make them competitive alongside our neighboring countries,” Evardone, a member of the ruling Liberal Party chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.
Asean groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The value of the 10-strong Asean countries’ Gross Domestic Product under the Asean Economic Community in 2015 is estimated at $1 trillion.
“The concerned government agencies should appraise Congress on how we are going to meet these challenges, factoring in government subsidies, production cost, in each country, considering that our government revenues will surely be affected with the absence of tariffs,” Evardone pointed out.
To be competitive in the huge Asean Economic Community, Evardone noted that the country should have enough infrastructures, improve the industries’ production as well as logistical capacity for the smooth flow of goods and services, provide access to capital for the businesses and sport a highly-skilled labor force.
“This could be a threat and an opportunity at the same time. It’s either people will lose jobs, or more people will get jobs. Hindi tayo dapat natutulog sa pansitan (The concerned government agencies should not be sleeping on their jobs here),” Evardone added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI