Biz groups to gov’t: Enact more economic reform bills

Cherrie Regalado
Business groups say the passage of bills on customs modernization and rationalization of fiscal incentives, among others, are crucial to sustaining economic growth

MANILA, Philippines – Despite stellar economic growth and improved ranking in the most widely followed competitiveness survey, business groups still urge the Aquino administration to improve the country’s business climate through economic reforms.

The Philippine Business Groups (PBG) and the Joint Foreign Chambers in a press briefing on Wednesday, September 11 presented a legislative agenda – a list of economic and business bills aimed at attracting more investments in the country.

The PBG is composed of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Makati Business Club, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Philexport.

The JFC is composed of American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean Chambers of Commerce and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies.

The groups urged the Aquino administration to hasten economic reforms through the passage of their recommended bills.

“Business and economic reform bills should have high priority since they support investment and job creation,” they noted.

PBG and JFC said the following bills should be prioritized:

  • Competition policy/Anti-trust
  • Customs modernization and Tariffs Act /Anti-smuggling
  • Foreign Investment Negative List Liberalization
  • Governement Procurment Act Ammendments
  • Mining Fiscal Reforms
  • Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives
  • Transparency and Accountability in Fiscal Incentives
  • Amendments of the Economic Provision of the Constitution
  • Cabotage law

PGB and JFC said a letter sent to President Benigno Aquino III on June 19 contained this legislative agenda.

The groups said some of them have met with the country’s economic managers to discuss the bills.

“Some of the heads of joint chambers invited to economic clusters where business groups raised the issue,” MAP president Melito Salazar said.

Salazar said the government has been receptive to the proposals.

“There is a reaching out from point of view of executive branch of government, there is also a very good feedback [from] Congress. We are encouraged by these moves,” he added.

PGB and JFC nevertheless said the pace of passage of bills intended to improve the country’s business climate has improved.

“The last 2 congresses have been quite productive in comparison to previous congresses,” American Chamber of Commerce Senior Adviser John Forbes said.

The groups pointed out that 29 business and economic reforms have been enacted in the 15th Congress and 22 in the 14th Congress.

But they said they will continue to be proactive in pushing for more economic bills.

“We would go beyond proposing, and would actively participate in the legislative process. By sending our position papers to committees in Congress and sending knowledgeable resource persons to relevant Congressional and Senate hearings,” Salazar said. – Rappler.com

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