The business community would like to hear from the presidentiables their platforms on infrastructure development, how to attract more foreign direct investments and jobs creation for the masses, as domestic growth could falter this year given the impact of some unfavorable external factors.
Newly elected president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) George Barcelon said businessmen would expect the presidential candidates to lay down their platforms by next month, February.
“We would like to hear how the new administration undertake infrastructure programs because that will create more jobs and alleviate the plight of the masses,” said Barcelon even as he urged for government to drill employment data down to the local government units to see which locality has the highest unemployment rate. The data may be used as a measure of performance of the local elective officials.
While Barcelon expressed his optimism on the Philippine economy, he stressed the need for some measures to cushion the impact of developing geopolitical events in the Middle East, which hosts over 2 million overseas Filipino workers, 800,000 of them in Saudi Arabia.
“So can you imagine, if they (Middle East) cut their budget. I am optimistic about the economy of the country, but there are issues to be addressed,” he said.
To cushion this impact, he called for accelerated implementation of infrastructure projects under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program. He said that projects approved under the PPP program should be implemented now because this would help create jobs for the masses.
He called for the swift implementation of well-studied PPP projects such as farm to market roads, water, port, and airports.
“These are things we would like-to- continue in the next six months so the next administration can hit the ground running,” he said noting that it takes a long time to put well-studied PPP projects together.
“We should go full blast even within the remaining 6 months,” he said.
The infrastructure projects, he said, will not only ease traffic in Metro Manila but will also impact on tourism and livelihood in the regions.
“Tourism is a good economic driver especially in the provinces but it will not trickle down to the masses if we have no proper infrastructure, no Internet. Tourists do not feel safe if there is no access to Internet,” said Barcelon, whose main business now is as distributor of major IT infrastructure systems.
On foreign direct investments, Barcelon said the business community would like to know how the presidentiables will attract FDIs. He noted the Philippines has long been lagging behind ASEAN countries in terms of FDI inflows. FDIs in Singapore have reached $50 billion but the Philippines’ highest FDI was only $6.2 billion in 2014.
“We should be promulgating new laws that make our country more attractive to FDIs or make do with lesser laws,” he said.
To ensure FDI inflows, Barcelon has urged government to honor contracts.
“One area that is important to business is consistency of laws, there should be no flip-flopping of rules. These are things that matter to business,” he stressed.
The PCCI also expects the presidentiables to address the micro small and medium enterprises on how to uplift them and enable them to participate in the global value chain.
Source: Manila Bulletin