PPP IS THE KEY Management Association of the Philippines President Rogelio ‘Babe’ Singson (right) gives his insights on how the country can sustain economic growth in an interview with The Manila Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd on SMNI’s television show ‘Business and Politics’ on Saturday, July 16, 2022. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR
PPP IS THE KEY Management Association of the Philippines President Rogelio ‘Babe’ Singson (right) gives his insights on how the country can sustain economic growth in an interview with The Manila Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd on SMNI’s television show ‘Business and Politics’ on Saturday, July 16, 2022. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR

THE government and the private sector need to collaborate further to achieve a balanced and sustained economic growth, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) President Rogelio "Babes" Singson said.

During an interview with The Manila Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dante Francis "Klink" Ang 2nd on SMNI's television show "Business and Politics," Singson said the bottom line should also include the recommendations from the business sector for the country to also attain "economic dynamism."

"How do we increase investments, how do we generate more employment and how do we make sure the environment is ideal for private sector investments?" he said.

He also took note of former MAP president Alfredo Pascual getting appointed as the Trade and Industry secretary of the Marcos administration.

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"In fact, our agreement is we will try to make the voice of the MAP heard by the right parties," Singson said, adding that his role as the organization president is to also be a "lobbyist."

He stressed that MAP remains non-political, and it wants to make sure that the government will know what are the priorities and important matters to the private sector.

"Bottom line, we all agree in the MAP that there has to be strong partnership and collaboration between the public sector and the private sector. One cannot do it alone," he added.

Singson said he and the association believe that the government must focus on two things in order for the country to come out of the pandemic even stronger: its people and its lands.

"What we did in the previous MAP boards was we started formulating certain priority areas. But the big picture or bottom line questions are these: How do we increase investments and generate more employment? How do we make sure that the environment is ideal for private sector investments?" Singson said.

Some of the policies suggested specific examples such as a return to face-to-face classes, the digitalization of the country and everything related to it, improving tax administration, pursuing energy development, and strengthening food systems, among others.

He also mentioned that they are hoping that the government would at least try and implement some of them.

"Our agreement with them is that we will try to make the voice of the MAP heard by the right parties. We just want to make sure that what we think are priorities and important to the private sector are ultimately listened to," Singson said.

Being a former head of the Department of Public Works and Highways, he discussed infrastructure and its importance to growth.

"As far as infrastructure is concerned, we know how much debt the government already has. What we would like to propose is for the government to pursue more public-private partnership (PPP) projects. We have also made suggestions on how to make it more investment-friendly. And in order to do this, we have to sell the market itself. Consult those potential investors, those who are in the business," Singson said.

He said the group is also trying to emphasize to the government not to use the PPP as a fund-raising exercise.

"Let us not ask them for a front-end concession fee. Settle the minimum concession fee, but let them bid. So the consumers can ultimately benefit," Singson continued.

He said that the association hopes the Marcos administration can continue the Build, Build, Build program and also hone in on the water sector as well.

"We are suggesting that the government can increase its infrastructure spending to 5.5 to 6.5 [percent] of the country's gross domestic product. It was derailed due to the pandemic when the government was forced to spend more for health priorities. Hopefully, in this new administration, it can start again," Singson explained. "In addition, the government must especially focus on the water sector as it has been the most neglected ever. There are some 30 agencies in the government doing their own thing as far as the water sector is concerned. Ask anyone in the Philippines: How much is your water bill? And they will say it is the cheapest."

"Business and Politics" airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. on SMNI New Channel on SMNI Channel 39 and on digital TV, with replays over the week.