Main business chamber identifies issues holding back progress

A Customs cop and his dog check out a container with suspected contraband at the port of Cebu in this March 8 photo provided by the Bureau of Customs. Smuggling is a nagging problem cited by the country’s business chambers.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has identified issues encompassing a number of sectors including agriculture, energy and power that it wants the government to resolve through a list of initiatives that range from investment promotion to the passage of key legislative measures.

The 10 resolutions were set for approval during last day yesterday of the 43rd Philippine Business Conference that was held at The Manila Hotel.

Two resolutions each were listed for energy and power, as well as for industry development.

A total of eight bills were identified as priority business legislative measures.

On energy and power, PCCI has issued a resolution urging the national government, the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Finance (DoF) to hasten the resolution of the Malampaya tax issue between the DoE and the offshore Palawan gas-to-power project’s service contractors.

It said the move is aimed at upholding “sanctity of contracts and encourage investments and release economic opportunities, especially in the upstream side of the energy sector.”

The chamber has also resolved that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) expedite the decision on eight power supply agreements with a total capacity of 3,551 megawatts (MW) that are pending with the regulator “in order to assure adequate and reliable power and sustain the country’s economic expansion.”

On industry development, it is urging the government to fast-track presidential proclamation of economic zone applications already approved by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in order to generate more economic opportunities especially in the regions.

It also urged the Bureau of Customs to reconsider the implementation of pre-shipment inspection, which it said is not consistent with the revised Kyoto Convention.

In its place, the chamber sought the application of a number of measures to “effectively combat smuggling while facilitating trade.”

“Apply the principle of risk management to make effective interventions in the supply chain without constraining legitimate trade,” PCCI said.

“Focus on fast-tracking efforts to modernize customs administration and implement institutional reforms. Maximize the use of ICT [information and communications technology] and non-intrusive technology.”

It also asked the government to adopt trade facilitation measures such as the authorized economic operator system, as well as advance lodgement and clearance using modern, relevant ICT-based systems.

On agriculture, PCCI asked the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry to fully implement the Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expo (ASPIRE) nationwide.

It said initiatives should be undertaken, such as identifying “priority commodities of the regions that would be given assistance and interventions through the use of geo mapping/tagging and make the information available to the private sector.”

The business group also urged the establishment of a database and market profiling “that would be readily accessible to farmers, producers and end users.”

“Create a centralized monitoring mechanism that would document compliance and accomplishment of ASPIRE deliverables,” it also said.

PCCI has urged the House of Representatives and the Senate to approve the following proposed laws:

• Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act;

• Public Service Act amendment;

• Act creating Regional Investment and Infrastructure Corporation of Central Luzon;

• Amendment of the Local Government Code;

• Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act;

• Customs Amnesty Act;

• Estate Tax Amnesty;

• Granting Amnesty on All Unpaid Internal Revenue Taxes Imposed by the National Government for Taxable Year 2015 and Prior Years.

PCCI has also urged the government “to strengthen health and nutrition program in public elementary schools in order to improve their ability to learn.”

It has also resolved further to give more impetus to the K-12 Program (involving kindergarten and 12 years of basic education) by making available industry-relevant facilities with emphasis on technical vocational courses.

On the environment, it urged local governments to better implement Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, in order to address land waste that contribute to marine pollution. It also asked the National Solid Waste Management Commission to monitor implementation of the solid waste management plans of local governments.

On small- and medium-scale enterprise development, it called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue and local governments “to review, simplify and streamline processes, requirements and fees in business registrations, licenses and closures.”

On transportation and logistics, it urged the DTI and the Department of Transportation “to issue a joint department order on publishing international shipping fees and other charges in order for traders, importers and exporters to choose which shipping lines offer fair and reasonable rate.”

 

Source: BusinessWorld

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