PCCI to gov’t: Open economy now

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THE COUNTRY’S biggest business group on Wednesday urged the Duterte administration to “open the economy now” and assist businesses in creating more jobs, in order to accelerate the Philippine economy’s recovery.

This is part of the wish list that the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) will submit to President Rodrigo R. Duterte today (Nov. 18), the last day of the Philippine Business Conference (PBC).

Aside from reopening the economy, the PCCI’s resolutions also cover internet connectivity, innovation advocacy, ease of doing business, agricultural productivity, education, environment, energy efficiency, and infrastructure.

“We will not concede this projected future amid all grim outlook from many sectors. We, at PCCI, believe we still have what it takes for a nation to become one of the most robust economies in the world. The Philippine business sector will lead this change,” PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico said in a statement.

The PCCI urged the government to further open the economy now even before herd immunity is attained to revive pandemic-hit businesses before the economy slumps back into a deep recession.

Metro Manila remains under a more relaxed Alert Level 2, where most businesses are allowed to operate but in limited capacity.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he expects the government to ease mobility restrictions to Alert Level 1, the most relaxed lockdown level, by the start of next year.

“With current trends, we expect to achieve Alert Level 1 by the onset of the New Year,” he said in a speech read by Finance Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil S. Beltran at the PBC. “Our businesses should prepare to thrive under the terms of this new economy.”

Meanwhile, the PCCI also asked the government to help companies create new jobs and preserve existing ones. It also sought the full implementation of the Ease of Doing Business law, modernization of agriculture sector, and acceleration of internet connectivity nationwide.

The PCCI urged the government to institutionalize innovation as a national strategy towards economic development; digitize the education system; protect the environment and reduce carbon footprint; ensure reliable and affordable power supply to sustain economic recovery; and fast-track the scheduled completion of all infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, and safeguard the transparency in the bids and awards of contracts.

Jeffrey T. Ng, chair of the 47th PBC, said the resolutions are addressed to the outgoing administration and aspiring new leaders.

“While there are, no doubt, many other proposals on the table, we offer these resolutions containing doable recommendations, proposed legislations and executive actions to guide our economic recovery and bring into the fore those who are in danger of being left behind as we bounce back from the aftermath of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” Mr. Ng said.

In a keynote speech at the PBC on Wednesday, Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo said there is a need to rebuild the trust in the government which can be achieved by having dependable and predictable policies.

“Foreign and domestic investments, we all know, will only dramatically rise if we have the necessary infrastructure and logistics for them to thrive. To do this, we need to offer a stable and strong political and economic climate. We need to prioritize lowering of power rates and other utility costs, and prioritize mass transport,” Ms. Robredo said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave