EDITORIAL - Economic initiatives

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Economic initiatives

While the two chambers of Congress duke it out over Charter change ostensibly to attract more foreign investments, local businessmen have listed 12 initiatives that they say can strengthen the economy.

At a media forum yesterday, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. expressed optimism over the country’s economic growth prospects for the year, citing the resilience of the economy and “positive” macroeconomic fundamentals. Economic performance, however, can be boosted with the implementation of the 12 initiatives, the head of the FFCCCII said.

The 12 include measures long suggested by the business community, such as securing affordable and stable energy, infrastructure development, empowering local manufacturing, revitalizing export industries, modernizing agriculture and continuing business reforms. These reforms include cutting bureaucratic red tape, boosting efficiency and ease of doing business, ensuring the sanctity and predictability of contracts and promoting fair competition.

Apart from these moves, FFCCCII president Cecilio Pedro also raised the need to invest in a globally competitive education, social capacity building and other social development initiatives. Sustained economic growth, Pedro also said, is anchored on continued political and social stability, with a “unified nation” in strong partnership with the government.

The initiatives are challenging to pursue in this country that is currently witnessing the disintegration of political alliances formed for the 2022 general elections. There is also the bitter feud between the two chambers of Congress over Charter change, which proponents are presenting as a silver bullet for attracting foreign investments. Even foreign chambers, however, have long pushed for several of the initiatives cited by the FFCCCII, particularly in promoting ease of doing business, lowering energy costs and upholding the sanctity of contracts.

Foreign investors have also reported increasing difficulty in getting the local talent needed in their enterprises. The problem reflects the crisis in Philippine education, which two international assessments have shown has produced 15-year-old students performing poorly in the basic competencies of reading comprehension, mathematics and science.

Addressing the urgent concerns raised by both local and foreign investors is more pressing and challenging than the ongoing underhanded rush by certain quarters to amend the Constitution.

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