The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday called on the government to protect the economy from a global slowdown by involving businesses to create a more inclusive growth pattern that would leverage natural and human resources.
“It is essential that our top priority is to invest in the foundational challenges that drive domestic competitiveness and productivity—good governance focused on facilitating and supporting doing business in the country; health, education and skills; infrastructure; research and innovation; and trade connections and export growth,” said PCCI president George Barcelon during the chamber’s first Kapihan Forum at the Astoria Plaza Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
Barcelon painted a macro perspective of the local business environment as he called for an alignment of goals from the national and local governments.
He said this would enable local businesses to move more quickly to achieve the goal of a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. He said one of the basic issues that turn off investors is red tape.
Barcelon underscored the need to reduce red tape and make it easy for investors to register and do business in the country and allow 100-percent foreign ownership in areas where they want to invest and 100-percent repatriation of their profits.
“Let us also open up agriculture to foreign investments, engage our LGUs and make them more friendly and welcoming to investors. With more investments, we create more businesses and more jobs for our growing population. With more Filipinos employed, there will be more consumers who will spend and stimulate our economy. This is the way forward for our economic transformation,” he said.
Barcelon said some critical domestic productive sectors such as agriculture were declining, while the mining industry was stagnant.
“The unsound fundamentals in these sectors are why joblessness and poverty remain so entrenched. They also ultimately explain why our country has the highest inflation and second highest unemployment rate in Southeast Asia,” he said.
“We want to grasp the opportunities of adding value to the industries where we see our sustainable future. These require Industry transformation plans—in mining, agriculture and agritech, the digital economy and manufacturing and strategies for renewable energy technologies. For our potentials to materialize, our country needs infrastructure and an environment, in which investors can develop confidence over as long a time horizon as possible,” he said.
The PCCI also called on the private sector to fill the gap in the government’s fiscal constraints through the public-private partnership and ensure continuity in the projects identified as of national priority and significance.
The group stressed the need to incentivize the Philippine workforce to stay in the country by providing quality jobs and competitive pay. Upskilling the country’s labor pool should be a top priority not only by the government but by employers, it said.