How ‘Dutertenomics’ can benefit SMEs
BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - May 1, 2017 - 12:00am

Thanks to the Finance Department’s Atty. Paola Alvarez for sending me detailed information on the action-oriented Duterte administration’s recent April 25 forum on its “Dutertenomics” comprehensive reforms on taxes, increased infrastructure expenditure and other policies with the uplifting mantra “Build, build, build.” 

Let us all enthusiastically support this focus on Philippine economic reforms and economic growth, especially for the benefit of small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), which provide jobs to millions of people.

Notable among the information Alvarez shared was that the Philippines’ top business tycoons and their heirs were present at the forum, where hardworking cabinet secretaries, led by Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and Budget Secretary Dr. Ben Diokno, discussed these audacious government reforms.

Among the business leaders in attendance were SM Group’s Tessie Sy-Coson; Ayala Group’s Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala; Danel and Sandro Aboitiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures; Kevin Tan, representing his father Andrew Tan of Megaworld Corp.; Michael Tan, representing his father Lucio Tan of the LT Group Inc.; and Edgar Injap Sia II of Double Dragon Properties Corp.

Here are requests for reforms from numerous SME entrepreneurs, including officers and members of the Association of Filipino Franchisors, Inc. (AFFI), led by newly elected chairman Sonny Francisco of Ferino’s Bibingka and president John Chung of Acquasuisse:

Provide faster and cheaper broadband Internet nationwide to help equalize business opportunities for SMEs and micro-enterprises and help them access global markets. Ensure also that telecommunications facilities are competitive and efficient nationwide.

Reform the restrictive economic provisions of the Philippine constitution in order to open our economy to more foreign direct investments (FDIs). These economic provisions need not be new ideas; we can just copy or be at par with that of our ASEAN and Asian competitors in their foreign-investment incentives and policies.

Rationalize labor policies to safeguard and bolster the morale of the country’s labor-intensive SMEs, and make doing business in the Philippines less stressful for SME entrepreneurs. 

Drastically cut down on bureaucratic red tape via shorter procedures and more transparency, especially in the notoriously inefficient local government units (LGUs).

Seek ways to lower electric power costs.

Fast-track federalism constitutional reforms, to benefit the numerous rural regions left behind by the economic growth of the past.

Provide state support or incentives to the Philippine banking system so they can give more loan support to SMEs.

Bolster the export industries with tax and other incentives similar to that of other Asian countries.

Deepen the country’s independent foreign policy and insulate it from the vagaries of our volatile politics, so that the Philippines can tap the huge export and tourism markets, not only of China and Russia, but also non-traditional markets like oil-rich Iran, Central Asia, Turkey, the Middle East, Latin America, the energy-rich frontiers of Africa and our very own backyard, the fast-growing ASEAN region. Make our diplomacy vigorously advance also the Philippines’ trade advantages and not just focus on geopolitical issues or OFW problems.

Invest more in research and development as well as technological advancements, those that will not only benefit existing business groups or conglomerates but advances which will assist SME entrepreneurs throughout the archipelago.

Encourage anti-trust policies that will end or discourage monopolies, duopolies or oligopolies in many industries of our Philippine economy. Encourage true free-market competition in all sectors of the economy to benefit consumers, SMEs, and strengthen the dynamism of our society.

Boost Philippine agriculture, help the farmers and their families, also fishermen nationwide.

Make the impending Philippine tourism boom also benefit SMEs nationwide.

Fast-track the “build, build, build” infrastructure plans of the national government into 24/7 construction schedules. Don’t be paralyzed by internecine politics, bureaucratic inertia, and endless analyses or past government indecisiveness. Please ask President Rody Duterte and his Cabinet secretaries to do high-profile surprise construction site visits, and crack the whip if necessary on inept, inefficient, erring or slow officials.  

Dutertenomics is poised to be a great catalyst for sustained, faster, globally competitive and more inclusive Philippine economic growth, offering us an opportunity for genuine progress that will benefit not only “imperial Metro Manila” or urban-based elites and upper middle-class segment.

Although the business groups and conglomerates often get the business headlines, the long-term destiny and genuine economic democracy of a nation also lies in the dreams, ceaseless efforts, toil and continuous investments of our SMEs.

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Thanks for your feedback! Email willsoonflourish@gmail.com or wilsonleeflores@yahoo.com. Follow @wilsonleeflores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and read my new blog, wilsonleeflores.com.

ATTY. PAOLA ALVAREZ
Philstar
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