Business concern on federalism mounts

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IN A joint statement on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 19 organizations have joined seven business groups that flagged on Sunday their concern over the costs and risks of transitioning toward a federal system.

These organizations are Alyansa Agrikultura, Asia Pacific Real Estate Association (APREA), Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), Investment House Association of the Philippines (IHAP), Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI), National Real Estate Association (NREA), Organizations of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP), People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), Philippine Constructors Association (PCA), Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PHILWEN), Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, nc. (SEIPI), Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines (SharePHIL), Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP), UP School of Economics Alumni Association, and Women’s Business Council Philippines (WBCP).

Their statement read: “At this time when financial markets in developing countries are being roiled following the difficulties of Venezuela and Turkey, it is all the more important that all sectors are seen as solidly behind the call of our economic managers for fiscal prudence, more dialogues and a well-considered approach in the shift to federal form of government. Both the private and public sectors cannot be perceived as lacking in resolve on the fiscal front, seeing how financial markets are so sensitive. Hence, the ongoing meltdown occurring in some beleaguered markets.”

“For this reason, many other organizations join the 7 large business organizations in calling for legislators to weigh carefully the costs and risks associated with the proposed monumental shift to a federal system of government.”

Last Sunday, the Cebu Business Club (CBC), the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI), and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) urged legislators in a joint statement to consider the implications of the shift to federalism on the country’s finances.

Sought for comment on the impact of federalism on ease of doing business, as business groups have cautioned, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said via text: “I don’t think it will automatically dampen EODB (ease of doing business) in the country.”

“Also, there are national policies and standards that will still be applied,” he added.

“Each state may try to do their own improvement in continuous streamlining and automation of systems. States will try to be more competitive to attract more investments in their areas. It is their chance to uplift the quality of life for their constituents.”

“Then there should be no impact on EODB,” Mr. Lopez said. — with Janina C. Lim