Reco-7.2

4 regional ‘Sulong’ forums generate ‘Top 10’ proposals

DAVAO CITY—A consolidation of the actionable recommendations submitted by the private sector in the four regional “Sulong Pilipinas” workshops conducted in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in November yielded proposals ranging from improving agricultural output and simplifying loan requirements for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to enhancing peace and order measures, and stricter profiling of the government’s cash transfer or social protection beneficiaries.

The top recommendations from the regional workshops conducted in Cebu City, San Fernando City in La Union, Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, and here in Davao were merged at the conclusion of the “Sulong” event held on Nov. 28 at the SMX Convention Center in this city’s Lanang district.

The Davao event was the final leg of this annual consultative dialogue between the government and the private sector, said Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito Lambino II, who is also spokesman of the Department of Finance (DOF). Lambino is also one of Sulong’s organizers and has been involved in this event since it was first held in this city in June 2016 during the transition period for then-incoming President Duterte.

Improving agricultural productivity and raising farmers’ incomes through education and the use of new farm technologies emerged as the No.1 actionable recommendation from the private sector in all the four “Sulong” events; followed by the need to build more physical infrastructure such as seaports, airports and mass-based transport systems; and simplifying requirements for loans with reasonable interest rates for SMEs and the rural sector.

The other “Top 10″ actionable recommendations gathered nationwide are the following, ranked Nos. 4 to 6: Improving access to education, especially for the poor; implementing stricter profiling of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) recipients, monitoring their expenses and providing them livelihood training; and speeding up the processing and issuance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of licenses and certificates of product registration.

Consolidating the recommendations came up with three proposals ranked No. 7:  Properly planning infrastructure projects to reduce disruptions in business operations; simplifying processes at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); and improving peace and order by ensuring police and military visibility in rural areas, intensively monitoring illegal trade activities in coastal areas, and continuing the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.

The rest of the recommendations were: Improving health services in every part of the country by building more health centers and hospitals, which will help decongest district hospitals; providing tax incentives to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and streamlining government processes and reducing red tape.

Lambino said that several of the “Top 10” actionable recommendations for this year are already being implemented and will continue to be improved by the government such as simplifying BIR processes; reducing red tape, which will be further enhanced with the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Law; building more physical infrastructure via the “Build, Build, Build” program; and enhancing peace and order.

The rest of the recommendations will be thoroughly studied and acted upon “with as much seriousness as we have done in the past,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told the media after the Davao event.

Dominguez told participants at the Clark and Davao “Sulong” workshops that the Duterte administration has delivered on several key recommendations made two years ago by the private sector to help the government sustain high and inclusive growth,   notably on improving the ease of doing business, implementing a national identification (ID) system and instituting tax reform.

The Finance chief said the government also responded to the call of the business sector to modernize the country’s infrastructure and logistics network with its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program that is now powering the economy and providing a strong base for sustained high growth.

These recommendations, Dominguez recalled, were fleshed out by leaders of the business community during the first-ever “Sulong Pilipinas” consultative conference in Davao City in June 2016.

Dominguez said the government’s swift response to the business sector’s recommendation of improving connectivity and upgrading the logistics backbone has spurred growth, with the government spending P571 billion in the first nine months of 2018 alone on infrastructure, which is 7.2 percent above target and 46 percent higher than the amount spent in the same period last year.

Reco-7.2

Regional ‘Sulong’ forums underscore private

sector’s role in sustaining growth

DAVAO CITY—Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said that spinning off the annual “Sulong Pilipinas” consultative conference into regional forums across the country underscores the importance given by the Duterte administration to the business sector in its pursuit of high and inclusive growth.

Dominguez said the government doubled its efforts this year to connect with the private sector by involving small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), which represent “a crucial component in our economy,” given that they account for 99 percent of business entities and employ the bulk of the country’s workforce.

To also step up such efforts, regional workshops, now dubbed the “Sulong Pilipinas-Philippine Development Forum (PDF),” were held earlier in Cebu City last Nov. 9, in San Fernando City in La Union on Nov. 14, and on Nov. 26 at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

“We believe consultations between government and the private sector should be an ongoing affair,” said Dominguez at a news conference here during a break at the daylong “Sulong” workshop held here on Wednesday (Nov. 28).

“To improve representation of all parts of the country and increase access for stakeholders, we have decided to hold regional forums, with the purpose of primarily gathering the inputs and recommendations of representatives from our small and medium enterprises or SMEs,” he added.

“Here in Davao, where businesses are flourishing, and the spate of infrastructure investments under President Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program will catalyze its growth potential, we anticipate a lively discussion in the country’s robust economic and fiscal position,” Dominguez said.  “We also anticipate a wealth of insight from the private sector on how to power our economic breakthrough.”

Dominguez said the earlier forums held in Luzon and Visayas secured for the government the support of SMEs and the rest of the business sector in its proposed lowering of the corporate income tax (CIT), which, they said, would enable them to expand their businesses, raise their employees’ salaries and even hire more workers.

He said SMEs have also backed the reforms outlined in the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) law, especially the provision on the “zero-contact” policy, which they believe will create the most significant positive impact.

“Sulong Pilipinas has proven to be an effective mechanism for providing SMEs a voice in the shaping of policy,” Dominguez said.

The forums in Cebu and San Fernando yielded a new set of action programs for the government, with the need to increase agricultural output through better access and improved public investment in new farm technology emerging as the business sector’s top recommendation.

Dominguez said the business sector also cited the need to implement efficient mass transport systems to ease traffic congestion; simplify loan requirements and offer low interest rates, especially for SMEs; speed up processing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of licenses and certificates of product registration; allow the filing and paying of taxes by SMEs online; and streamline government processes and further reduce red tape.

In Clark, improving the access of poor communities to education and healthcare; modernizing agriculture; increasing police visibility; and decongesting Metro Manila were among the top recommendations of the private sector.

Earlier at the “Sulong” forum here, Dominguez said the Duterte administration has delivered on several key recommendations put forth two years ago by the private sector to help the government supercharge the economy and fulfill its goal of inclusive growth, notably on improving the ease of doing business, implementing a national identification (ID) system and instituting tax reform.

Dominguez said the government also responded to the call of the business sector to modernize the country’s infrastructure and logistics network with an ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program that is now powering the economy and providing a strong base for sustained high growth.

These recommendations, Dominguez recalled, were fleshed out by leaders of the business community during the first-ever “Sulong Pilipinas” consultative conference held on June 2016 here in the midst of the preparations for the then-transition to the new presidency of Rodrigo Duterte.

This year’s “Sulong” regional workshops  are jointly organized by the DOF and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), along with the  Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), of Trade and Industry (DTI), of Transportation (DOTr), and of Budget and Management (DBM); National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA); Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA);  and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).