Business groups bare wish list for Marcos’ first hundred days

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Several roads leading to the National Museum in Manila have been closed in preparation for the inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. as the 17th President of the Philippines on June 30. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

AS FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR. is poised to assume office on June 30, business groups are hoping the new president will focus on ensuring food security, creating new jobs, and eliminating corruption in his first hundred days.

George T. Barcelon, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president, told BusinessWorld via mobile phone interview that Mr. Marcos should prioritize addressing issues related to food security, public transport, and education.

“(We hope he can address) health protocols for school reopening, public transport normalization, and food security,” he said.

Mr. Barcelon noted that supply chain issues may disrupt the food sector, so the Marcos administration should prepare for this.

Mr. Marcos is set to be sworn in as the 17th President of the Philippines on June 30. He takes office at a time when Filipinos are grappling with soaring food and fuel prices, joblessness, public transportation problems, and a possible surge in coronavirus infections.

Makati Business Club (MBC) Executive Director Francisco “Coco” Alcuaz, Jr. said in a mobile phone interview the economy will be hard to manage but Mr. Marcos is “off to a good start” after putting together an experienced and well-respected economic team.

“The Marcos administration can attract more job-creating investment if they make it clear business is again welcome to do its part in increasing investment and creating jobs,” he said.

“(He should) reduce corruption, take politics out of biddings, franchises and contracts, switch from making it harder to making it easier to do business and create jobs in this difficult environment. We would applaud such statements in his inaugural and cheer if he implements them,” he added.   

MBC is also urging the incoming economic team to undo recent changes to Republic Act No. 6957 or the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law implementing rules and regulations (IRR), and to reverse the Fiscal Incentives Review Board’s (FIRB) decision on remote work for business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, Mr. Alcuaz said.

The Marcos administration should also accelerate the shift to electronic receipts (e-receipts) and e-invoices, and push for the passage of an ease of paying taxes law.   

“These are the kinds of steps that would help businesses big and small, local and foreign, and create the jobs we need more than ever,” Mr. Alcuaz said.   

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had approved changes to the IRR of the BOT Law, which it said aims to protect the government and the public from excessive payments, undue guarantees, unnecessary fiscal risks, and onerous contractual provisions.   

In March, the MBC said the then-proposed amendments to the BOT IRR could hike transaction costs, cause delays, and discourage participation from the private sector.

Separately, the FIRB is currently requiring all registered business enterprises, including business process outsourcing firms, operating in economic zones (ecozones) to return to 100% on-site work for their employees or risk losing tax incentives.

MORE JOBSMeanwhile, Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) president, said in a phone interview that the incoming Marcos administration should work on creating more jobs as unemployment remains a problem.   

“Our target is more job creation, and we have this project to create again one million jobs for this year, and we wish that the new administration will support it,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.   

The unemployment rate stood at 5.7% in April, representing 2.762 million unemployed Filipinos. It was the lowest unemployment rate since before the pandemic or the 5.3% in January 2020.

Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman Jesus L. Arranza said in a mobile phone interview that the new administration should consult stakeholders first on what policies are needed to boost investments.

“(Mr. Marcos) should have a thorough dialogue with industry people in the Philippines so that he will be properly informed of what are the laws that are inimical to local industries and will also discourage the (entry) of investors to the Philippines,” Mr. Arranza said.