BASIC economics tells us that any country needs investments in order for the economy to get moving. It is the principal reason why world leaders travel thousands of miles to lure citizens of the world to invest in their countries of origin. It is precisely the reason why nations need to establish friendly relations with one another. In fact, besides seeking friendly or diplomatic accords, governments strive to forge and strengthen economic pacts with other countries to attract foreign investment and help fuel the economy.
President Aquino has gone several times halfway around the world to lure investors to our country. But lately, the actions of local agencies seem to run counter to the president’s objectives of building a sound economy.
Instead of providing leeway to companies that create employment and contribute to national production, local agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Customs and (BOC) Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) push the local companies to the wall, testing their limits, making life miserable for our local investors. This is local capital from our own investors being “punished” by government agencies which are supposed to promote their economic interest. Instead of facilitating the release of their imported merchandise, they make it hard on them; as if these importers are always out to violate the law.
Take the case of local companies, which are basically medium in scale, earning their bread-and-butter from trading imported items. These are local funds meant to boost the economy, but they get trapped because of bureaucratic red tape, resulting in losses for their businesses. How many of our local companies suffer the same fate, a situation that could be easily resolved if these agencies were to accommodate the needs of our local importers?
As a result of these irrational bureaucratic procedures they are undertaking, many of these local companies stand to lose a lot of money, which could even lead to bankruptcy. How many people would be unemployed because of these “irresponsible actions” that run counter to the goal of the president of attracting foreign investment? For how can you attract foreign investment to our shores when you cannot even provide protection to your own?
If you think that these local investors have committed certain violations, then by all means impose commensurate penalties then release the goods, rather than making them wait needlessly leading to increased cost of duties. These irresponsible acts have led to the continuing increase in local unemployment and the lukewarm attitude of foreign investors toward our economy. These bureaucrats who are supposed to complement the president’s efforts of attracting foreign investors are practically the same ones sabotaging the president’s objectives.
These are the reasons why many pledges of foreign investment earned by the president from his foreign trips remain unfulfilled up to now. The unfriendly way of doing business in the country makes life hard for our local investors, not to mention the exorbitant tax we impose on businesses, presumably the highest in the region. Compared to our Asean neighbors, the country is miles behind the amount of foreign investment poured into their economies.
These local agencies that make life hard for our local importers should get their act together. Local investors may have committed certain technical violations, but these should not merit harsh punishments that warrant extreme measures like confiscation or continued holding of goods that will mean heavy losses on the part of the importer. For in the first place, this is local capital that should be given priority protection by our local authorities. Tying up this capital in unnecessary red tape could push our local investors into bankruptcy and further worsen our unemployment rate, which now stands at 6 to 7 percent.
Unless these support agencies – the DTI, Bureau of Customs, and BIR — make amends and become supportive of our investors, then we can kiss our aspirations of becoming an economic tiger goodbye…
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