Duterte's transition team bares 8-point economic plan

Jovan Cerda - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - The transition team of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday bared the eight-point economic agenda of the incoming administration.

In a televised press conference in Davao City, Carlos Dominguez, a member of the Duterte transition team, enumerated Duterte's plans that centered on taxes, infrastructure, social services and rural development.

Dominguez, a former Cabinet secretary for the Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos administrations, said that foremost, the incoming government will continue and maintain the country's current macroeconomic policy.

"However, in the case of tax revenue collection, efforts will be complemented by reforms in the bureaucracy of the tax-collecting agencies. This will fulfill the president-elect's promise that there will be less corruption in the government," he said.

Secondly, Dominguez said the Duterte administration will accelerate the public-private partnerships to create jobs and inject economic activity in the country. "We are going to hold the people to their contracts," he said.

Dominguez said the incoming administration will also ensure the attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign direct investments by easing economic restrictions and by enhancing competitiveness of doing business in the Philippines.

He said the national government will follow the "Davao model" where licenses in doing business are given in the shortest possible time. In addition, Dominguez said this "also means reducing crime in the areas to increase the security of businessmen and consumers."

Fourth in the agenda is the plan to develop the rural areas in the country by providing support services to small farmers to improve their productivity.

"It also means that we are going to encourgae more agricultural processing in the agricultural areas," Dominguez said. He added that the new government will also promote tourism in the rural areas of the country.

Furthermore, he said the Duterte administration will address the bottlenecks in the land administration system, where four state agencies - Land Registration Administration, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Agrarian Reform - have difficulty cooperating.

"Security of land tenure is very important because it encourages foreign investment in the rural areas," he said.

Moreover, Dominguez said they will also strengthen the basic education system and provide scholarships for tertiary education, which he said is relevant to the needs of the private sector.

"We will try to match what is taught with what is demanded in the field," he said.

On the area of tax administration, Dominguez said the that the incoming government will make the tax system more progressive by indexing the tax collection gradiations to the inflation rate.

Lastly, the Duterte government also plans on expanding the conditional cash transfer program initiated by the Arroyo administration and expanded during the Aquino administration.

"We will also index that to inflation so that the real value of the money for people under the program will be maintained," he said.

In addition, the new government vowed to expand the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance System.

Dominguez said that a number of items in the new government's economic agenda will have to be addressed through a constitutional convention.

"We will push for something more friendly to foreign investments," he said.

Currently, foreigners are barred by the Consitution from owning more than 40 percent of real properties and businesses in the Philippines.

Pressed on the issue of labor contractualization which Duterte vowed to address, Dominguez said the transition team has yet to talk in detail about it but promised that it will be removed in the new administration.

He added that the transition team has yet to make economic growth targets pending consideration of the effects of El Niño to the country's agricultural sector.

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