Lend us your ear, Mr. President

As a partner of the government, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, created by law to be the single voice of business, holds its yearly Philippine Business Conference that gathers public officials, business leaders, academe, journalists, diplomatic corps, and other key stakeholders to dialogue on economic policy needs and gaps.

Break-out sessions are held to focus on specific topics which are then reported in the concluding plenary session and summarized into a set of resolutions or wish list that serves as inputs for the national leadership in crafting an economic agenda and addressing the new policy needs or amendments to accelerate national development.

This article is written on the eve of the 48th PBC and this columnist was given the privilege to chair the committee in charge of the conference resolutions before formally submitting it to President BBM an introductory statement as follows was delivered.

Today, our country faces many critical issues that need to be addressed simultaneously and urgently. We have issues with health, economy, transport, power, food supply, basic infrastructure, employment and many more. These are but a few of the numerous and diverse challenges we must confront head-on now and in the coming years if we are to move forward and get out of the quagmire the pandemic has left us.

While the principal role of addressing these myriad issues lies with our government, we, in the private sector, commit to doing our part toward the attainment of our shared vision of progress and prosperity for all.

These resolutions, focused on ten major sectors of our economy, have been crafted after long and serious consultations directly and indirectly with various entities involved in each of these areas. They represent the priority areas of our collective advocacies and expectations from the government. The resolutions give due recognition to the need for a balanced and integrated approach towards social, economic, and environmental sustainability with the ultimate goal of propelling our country, at the soonest possible time, on the path to economic development that is inclusive and sustainable.

We have no illusion that adopting and implementing these ten resolutions will guarantee 100 percent success in the 6-year term of the incumbent government, but it will be making giant strides to greatly reduce-if not eradicate poverty, hunger, and unemployment for all Filipinos this year and beyond in a sustainable environment that is safe, peaceful, clean and secure.

These are the ten resolutions approved by the PCCI general membership during the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Expo Resolutions:

1. Food Security

A resolution urging the national government to achieve food security by amending the Agrarian Reform Law to increase the land retention limit from 5 to 24 hectares, implement a debt condonation program for unpaid amortizations of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, and convert Certificates of Land Ownership Award into fee simple titles.

2. Health

A resolution urging the national government to reform PhilHealth into a science-based and transparent healthcare system and encourage Public-Private Partnerships in the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law.

3. Employment

A resolution urging the national government to work together with the private sector to reenergize the economy by supporting new investments to generate employment, provide assistance to pandemic-surviving MSMEs, amend all restrictive and punitive labor laws, and enact laws that will increase productivity.

4. Education

A resolution urging the national government to amend the Philippine Qualifications Framework Law to create a Philippine Qualifications Authority which will establish and maintain Qualification standards for all levels of education and training.

5. National Security

A resolution urging the national government to deepen cooperation with neighboring states, and expand participation in regional and multilateral defense agreements while accelerating the Modernization Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

6. Digitalization

A resolution urging the national government to develop and implement a nationwide internet connectivity program that is reliable and competitive by passing into law the Open Access in Data Transmission Act.

7. Environment and Climate Change

A resolution urging the national government to address climate change and environmental protection by developing public-private partnerships to establish world-class water and waste management infrastructure.

8. Power

A resolution urging the national government to accelerate the integration of the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids to enable the free flow of electricity nationwide and for the DoE to amend the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Renewable Energy Act to allow 100 percent foreign investment in solar and wind projects.

9. Transportation

A resolution urging the national government to provide world-class integrated transport systems and decouple the regulatory and commercial functions of the Philippine Ports Authority and other similarly situated transport agencies.

10. International Trade

A resolution urging the national government to hasten the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and to join bilateral free trade agreements and trans-pacific partnerships to minimize barriers to the free flow of goods and services.

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