Business groups ask Duterte to push economic measures

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Business groups on Friday asked the government of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to push legislation that will ensure economic recovery and the survival of small entrepreneurs amid a coronavirus pandemic.

The government should “work double time” in enacting economic measures both in Congress and through executive implementation, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employers Confederation of the Philippines and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. said in a joint statement.

Mr. Duterte is set to deliver his annual state of the nation address on Monday, when both the Senate and House of Representatives resume sessions.

“There had been many delays already in pushing for these reforms as the government and private sector got sidetracked by disasters and hazards even at the beginning of the year,” they said.

They sought the passage of a bill that will cut corporate income tx to 25% from 30% and give investors tax and nontax incentives, which they said will attract investments and help small companies recover.

The business groups said delaying the legislation could worsen the effects of investor uncertainty since the bill was first debated.

They also sought the passage of stimulus measures — one for accelerated recovery and another to cut joblessness.

The House has approved the P1.3-trillion stimulus package on third and final reading on June 4. It is pending at the Senate committee level.

Congressmen also approved on third reading on June 5 the bill that will allot P1.5 trillion for infrastructure projects over three years, meant to cut the jobless rate. No Senate counterpart measure has been filed.

“These bills are necessary in providing essential support for critically impacted farmers and fisherfolk, small businesses, tourism, transportation and other industries,” the business groups said.

They also sought the approval of measures seeking to change the Public Services Act, Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and the charter of the Philippine Ports Authority, aside from the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act, Warehouse Receipts Act, and Apprenticeship Training System Act.

The groups asked the Executive branch to enforce a national ID system, fund the government’s online trading facilitation portal and prioritize farm/fishing areas-to-market roads.

They also said the government should boost agri- and aquaculture infrastructure projects and expand private sector participation in planning the lifting of various levels of community lockdown.

“We are confident that these measures, if expeditiously enacted, will significantly help in the joint government and private sector objectives of recovery towards higher and sustained economic performance,” they said. — Arjay L. Balinbin