DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 May) – The economic team of presumptive president Rodrigo R. Duterte will make his hometown as a model for enhancing the country’s economic competitiveness and improve the Philippines’ attractiveness to foreign investors.
In a press briefing at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao Thursday, Carlos G. Dominguez, former cabinet member and head of Duterte’s campaign finance committee, said that copying the city’s ways in dealing with investors will have to mean cutting down the number of days in permit issuances.
In 2014, Duterte warned some of the revenue-oriented local government offices to issue business permits within 72 hours in a bid to curb down corrupt practices of some government officials.
“In enhancing the competitiveness, we will follow the Davao City model. In other words, licenses are given in the shortest possible time where government is actually helping business to establish in Davao,” he added
Dominguez, who is part of Duterte’s transition team, added that lowering the crime rates will take part in improving the country’s appeal as an investment destination.
“It also means that reducing crime in the area will certainly attract people to do business by increasing their sense of security,” he said.
Dominguez said they will address restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution to ensure the country’s competitiveness to foreign direct investments, this being the third of the eight-point economic agenda that the incoming Duterte administration would push through.
He added that they will “continue and maintain the current macroeconomic policies” but he emphasized that reforms in tax revenue collection in agencies such as Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) should be supported by reforms within the bureaucracy of these tax collecting agencies.
“This will fulfill the incoming president’s promise to eliminate corruption in the government,” he said.
Dominguez discussed that they will boost the infrastructure spending by maintaining the five- percent allocation from the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
By doing so, he believes this will result to more jobs creation and increased economic activity.
He pointed out that they will “pursue a genuine agricultural development strategy by providing support services to the small farmers to increase their productivity, improve their market access, and develop the agricultural value chain by forging partnership with agribusiness firms.”
Dominguez said they hope to improve the productivity of the farms as well as improve irrigation and support services.
The Duterte administration aspired to encourage more processing in the agricultural area since “two-thirds of the population who are poor live in the rural areas.”
Dominguez hinted at promoting tourism in the rural area.
To support rural development efforts, he cited the importance of addressing the bottlenecks in the land administration and management system.
He lambasted how little the coordination is among the Land Registration Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and Department of Agrarian Reform in terms of processing land titles.
“Security of land tenure is so important because it encourages more investments in rural areas. This makes more projects that are more bankable if there are solid land tenure,” he added.
Strengthen basic education
Dominguez stated that strengthening of basic education system is necessary.
He vowed they that they will provide scholarships for tertiary education “which are relevant to the needs of the private sector”, meaning producing graduates who will meet what the employers look for in the applicants.
Industry leaders in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), for instance, lamented that most of the graduates have usually failed their qualifications which need updating of the curriculum in the schools to make them ready for employment.
“We want to make sure that our people are competitive. What we want to do is make sure those who graduate from high school are prepared in three areas – math, thinking, and communication skills,” he said.
Tax and social services
Dominguez said that they plan to “improve tax system to make it progressive to enable those who earn little to have more money.”
He planned to update the “tax table” that meets the current inflation rate, so those who are earning less will benefit more.
The Duterte administration plans to expand and improve the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
“We will also index that to inflation so the real value received by the people under the program will maintain,” he said.
He emphasized on expanding the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to include more beneficiaries, most especially those who are living in the rural areas.