BUSINESS GROUPS want President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to outline his plans for key economic reforms, such as the impending Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law, in his Second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.  

Makati Business Club (MBC) Chairman Edgar O. Chua told reporters on the sidelines of the MBC’s forum in Makati City last week that Mr. Marcos should also discuss his intentions on an Ease of Paying Taxes Law, as well as a measure that will govern apprenticeship, which is seen as a key step in making students ready for employment.

“The Apprenticeship Law (would) address two things: one is enhancing the competency of our staff… second is it will lead to better employment opportunities for them,” Mr. Chua said.

“Given the fiscal space, the very limited fiscal space that the government (has), then the PPP Law should really be pushed so that we don’t slow down the country. We need to continue and even expand our growth rate,” he added.  

Mr. Marcos is set to deliver the SONA at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.

During its second meeting in early July, the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council designated the PPP Law and the Ease of Paying Taxes Law as among the 20 priority measures he hopes Congress will approve by year’s end.

The proposed Ease of Paying Taxes Law will encourage taxpayer compliance by modernizing tax administration and improving the efficiency of tax collection. The proposed Apprenticeship Law provides for an avenue for businesses to train workers for higher-skill professions.

The proposed PPP Law seeks to amend the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law to attract more investment and accelerate the infrastructure program.

Last year, the government issued revised rules governing the BOT Law. The altered rules were issued after business groups balked at the former arrangement, which required private proponents to bear more risk while relieving the government of responsibility for delayed deliverables.

Separately, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) President Benedicta Du-Baladad told reporters last week that the business group wants Mr. Marcos to address the issue of malnutrition at the SONA.

“There’s a different impact if it lands in SONA because then all the government agencies that are involved in that program have to step up and implement concrete measures,” she added.

In June, MAP asked the government to declare malnutrition and child stunting as the top agenda items to ensure that “sufficient funds will be earmarked, and action will be cascaded from the national all the way to the community level.”

According to the MAP, malnutrition and child stunting have human and economic costs by diminishing the supply of skilled labor in the future.

“Failure to address this problem in an urgent and decisive manner will place our country’s future in the hands of stunted children becoming adults whose capacity to be productive, competitive, and creative are limited. That will imperil national development and progress,” MAP has said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave