Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government doubled its efforts this year to connect with the private sector by involving micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which he described as a “crucial component” of the economy.
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Government caps off Sulong Pilipinas forum
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Economic and infrastructure officials capped off this year’s Sulong Pilipinas consultative forum, bringing with them a list of policy recommendations from the private sector to further support businesses and economic growth.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government doubled its efforts this year to connect with the private sector by involving micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which he described as a “crucial component” of the economy.

“We believe consultations between government and the private sector should be an ongoing affair. To improve representation of all parts of the country and increase access of stakeholders, we have decided to hold regional forums, with the purpose of primarily gathering inputs and recommendations of representatives from or small and medium enterprises or SMEs,” Dominguez said.

Sulong Pilipinas is a modern town hall consultative activity where private sector participants give policy recommendations and feedback on various areas of governance, such as economic development, infrastructure, local governance, peace and order, agriculture, social services, and micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) development.

This year, the event was held in four different locations, including Cebu City last Nov. 9, San Fernando in La Union last Nov. 14, Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga last Nov. 26 and Davao City last Nov. 28.

According to the Investors Relations Office (IRO), the top recommendations during the Sulong Pilipinas forum were to prioritize farming education and use new agricultural technology to improve agricultural output and farmers’ income; build more infrastructure projects to improve accessibility and minimize congestion; simplify loan requirements and offer low or reasonable interest rates to MSMEs and farmers; and to improve access to education, particularly for the poor.

The business sector also pushed for the Department of Social Welfare and Development to conduct stricter profiling of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) recipients and to consider monitoring their expenses; to provide livelihood training for 4Ps beneficiaries; to enable speedy processing and issuance of license to operate and certificate of product registration by the Food and Drug Administration; and to ensure proper planning in implementation of infrastructure projects to lessen disruptions to business operations.

They also asked the government to simplify the processes of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; enhance peace and order through greater police and military visibility in rural areas, intensive monitoring in coastal areas, and continuing martial law in Mindanao; provide health services with more funding for the Department of Health to build health centers and hospitals; to provide tax incentives for MSME development; and streamline government processes.

“Sulong Pilipinas embodies the continuing effort of the Duterte administration to make our economic development story holistic and inclusive,” Dominguez said.

Since Sulong’s first event in 2016, the finance chief said that the Duterte administration has delivered several key recommendations from the private sector.

These include efforts to improve ease of doing business, implement a national identification system, and instituting a tax reform.

Dominguez said the government also responded to the call of the business sector to modernize the country’s infrastructure and logistics network through its Build Build Build program.

Art Milan, president of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Sulong Pilipinas was “a very useful exercise to maintain communication and engagement between the government and the private sector.”

CARLOS DOMINGUEZ MICRO SULONG PILIPINAS
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