DAVAO CITY – Sustained economic growth and ensure that its impact is equitable to all Filipinos.
This is the goal of the incoming Duterte administration through its 10-point economic agenda presented before some 300 delegates of the two-day business consultation dialogue dubbed “Sulong Pilipinas: Hakbang Tungo sa Kaunlaran (Philippines Onwards: A Step Towards Progress), which started Monday at the SMX in this city.
The incoming administration earlier proposed an eight-point agenda but realized the need to focus also on the Reproductive Health Law, or RH Law, and on science, technology and the arts.
On top of the list is to “continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies.”
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte earlier vowed to sustain the current Aquino government’s economic policies to ensure the continued expansion of the economy, which in the first quarter of 2016 posted the highest growth in Asia at 6.9 percent.
Another focus is to “institute progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection, indexing taxes to inflation.”
Incoming economic managers said a review of the country’s tax system was needed to ensure a rightful level for all.
Some tax incentives are seen to be abolished to have a leeway to update income tax rates.
“We wish to see our workers having more disposable income to do as they wish,” incoming Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in his speech during the event.
Dominguez said corporate tax rates “will be adjusted to be competitive with the rest of the region to make our economy more competitive for investments.”
“We hope to broaden the tax base even more to compensate for lower rates,” he said.
The incoming administration also targets to further increase the country’s competitiveness and ease in doing business.
“This effort will draw upon successful models used to attract business to local cities and pursue the relaxation of Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except as regards land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investment (FDI),” a statement by the economic managers said.
Investment on infrastructure is also targeted to remain strong at the current five percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or higher at around six percent of total domestic output, with the help of public-private partnership (PPP).
We will invest in building the infrastructure necessary to make us a 21st century economy: from modernizing our ports to improving our logistical spine to ensuring reliable and cheap power for all the islands,” Dominguez said.
The incoming government eyes to implement not just major PPP projects but more small and medium-sized projects, particularly in the countryside to ensure a more inclusive growth, citing that this will provide more job opportunities for more people.
The focus on the provinces is among the 10-point economic agenda to “promote rural and value chain development towards increasing agricultural and rural enterprises productivity and rural tourism.”
Another goal is to “ensure security of land tenure to encourage investments, and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies.”
Investment in human capital is another aim to further ensure that the businesses’ demand for skilled individuals are met, which will also ensure that people will have work to sustain them and in turn boost economic growth.
Promotion of science, technology and creative arts will also be pursued “to enhance innovation and creative capacity towards self-sustaining inclusive development.”
Social protection programs, including the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, will be strengthened to address poverty and “protect the poor against instability and economic shock.”
The Reproductive Health Law (RH Law) will also be vigorously implemented to help couples from poor families to have informed choices to plan their families.
Incoming Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia, in a briefing at the sidelines of the dialogue, said proper implementation of the RH Law would be a big help in poverty reduction.
He explained that he has conducted a simulated study on this by dividing women into quintiles, wherein those belonging to the poorest quintile are given the opportunity to achieve their target family size, such as having maximum of three children instead of five to six children.
“If they are able to achieve family size then poverty rate would go down from 26 percent to 23 percent. This is a pure demographic effect from the implementation of family planning or RH law as it is called now,” he said.
Pernia said allowing women to be liberated from their child-bearing and child-caring duties provides them the opportunity to enhance their education or join the labor force, which has economic effect not just to the family but the country as well.