Businessmen’s wish list: Tax cuts, national ID

Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2016 - 12:01am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Lower income and corporate taxes. A national identification system. Automation of business permit processing, and faster broadband and phone services.

These are part of a 10-point wish list presented yesterday to president-elect Rodrigo Duterte by business leaders.

More than 400 corporate executives capped a two-day workshop here by giving their top 10 recommendations for economic policies of the Duterte administration before it takes over at noon of June 30.

After the presentation, Duterte said he would study the proposals, which he described as “doable.”

“The discussions have been unique and productive. The entire group huddled in a workshop and they exchanged ideas extensively. They enriched each other’s contribution,” finance secretary-designate Carlos Dominguez III said.

George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the two-day workshop would provide building blocks for collective synergy and a competitive landscape supportive of growth.

Businessmen urged Duterte to adopt a comprehensive tax reform package that will reduce corporate and personal income taxes and capital gains levies. Tax rates could be made “a little lower” than regional peers.

They also called for the implementation of a national ID system for improved targeting of social services.

Barcelon said this would allow informal settlers to be “properly identified” for improved access to health and education.

They also proposed the automation and streamlining of business permits and licensing systems to eliminate windows of corruption. This includes automatic renewal of licenses “after a certain period of time” of inaction, they said.

The business leaders also called for improvements of the Internet and telecommunications services to be at par with and competitive in the region. They called on the removal of congressional franchises, companies being granted international gateway licenses and investing in and renting out of cables.

They proposed a better delivery of support systems to farmers and fishermen such as financing, incentives, technology, farm-to-market roads, irrigation and post-harvest facilities;

Implementation of responsible mining that limits raw material exports to grow value-added processing locally;

Development and implementation of national strategy for industries where the country has greatest competitive advantage;

The “speedy” improvement of transport network system for the country to improve connectivity. This includes using regional airports and seaports to decongest their Manila counterparts and fast-tracking the North-South Railway Project, C-6 Road Project, Cebu Bus Rapid Project and Mindanao Railway Project.

The businessmen also called for a review of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.

They said the CCT is perceived as one that promotes dependency on government.

“Instead of CCT, the poor should be provided cash-for-work, livelihood and supplemental support,” they said.

They also called for reduction in the bottlenecks in the public-private partnership and other infrastructure projects and respect for sanctity of contracts.

This was the first time that a president-elect had conducted a consultation with the business community, which hailed the move.

Among the business leaders who attended the two-day event here were Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Cebu Pacific Air chief Lance Gokongwei, GMA Network Inc. chairman Felipe Gozon, BDO Unibank president and Bankers Association of the Philippines chief Nestor Tan and Philippine Airlines president Jaime Bautista.

Government officials as well as multilateral lenders International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank were also present.  – With Edith Regalado

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