What should government’s policy be towards business?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 6, 2019 - 12:00am

How does the business community look at the attitude of the government? Does the government consider the business sector its enemy or its ally in the socio-economic life of the nation?

If it looks at the private enterprises as allies, then they should stop ''terrorizing'' businessmen with multiple and confiscatory taxation, and with antagonistic and confrontational inspections. Does the government exist to help entrepreneurs remain viable in a harshly competitive global environment, so that the enterprises can create jobs to the labor-excess economy? Or is the government out on a rampage to “kill” business viability, especially of the small-scale and medium-scale industries, not to mention the micro-enterprises? Government should rid itself of corruption, ineptitude, red tape, and bureaucratic inanities that exasperate foreign investors and cause wastage and inefficiency.

President Duterte himself was quoted when he was still mayor of Davao City: “The problem with us, in government is that we talk too much, we act too little and too late, and never care of the implications of our abuses and neglect.” The reason why the president hates the “imperialistic” Manila is because many agencies cannot make decisions without getting too many signatures from their head office. This then is the philosophy of the proposed federal government, to bring down decision-making because business and the private sectors have long been imprisoned and enslaved by the tyranny of bureaucrats who have no sense of client orientation or a semblance of urgency.

The presidential veto of the Security of Tenure law was a landmark victory of the people and the business community as well. The president has gained a balanced perspective of the economy and has realized that job security cannot be legislated or created by the mere act of enacting a law. Job security is created by a stable economy where businessmen are assured of reasonable returns, and workers who are productive producers of high-quality goods and services are rewarded properly and well. The veto also has proven once more that we have a president who has the political will, a leader who bites the bullet even if many vested interests feel betrayed and abandoned. It also demonstrates that Manong Digong looks at the bigger picture and refuses to be myopic.

This is the proper government policy in relation to business. There should be no government moves that would drive away investors. When investors would leave the country, our labor force loses many job opportunities and they have to migrate to seek work abroad. The volume of direct foreign investments would continue to deteriorate and we shall go back becoming the old sick man in Asia. Among the ASEAN 10, the best economic policies are in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Now, Thailand and Vietnam have more foreign investments because their governments do not treat business as the enemy but as social and economic partners. The many regressive and confiscatory taxes imposed on business and the highly adversarial, antagonistic, and confrontational inspections being done by DOLE inspectors are killing business and driving away investments.

If this government, and any government for this matter, would want to improve the economy, stabilize the nation and help the people, its policies should be straightened and formulated properly. Government should not look at business as an enemy but as an ally. And business must comply with laws without the need to be inspected.

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