MANILA – Economists are pushing for the immediate passage of economic reform measures, particularly those that stimulate investment and create new jobs in the country, in the coming 18th Congress.
“The objective is to pass the priority bills of LEDAC (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council), the ones that the President has already given a blessing,” Astro del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Finance Inc., said in an interview with Philippine News Agency.
Del Castillo said among these priority measures are the National Land Use Act, as well as amendments to the Charter that will attract more investments, especially foreign, into the country.
He pointed out that the National Land Use Act, which can prevent the loss of agricultural lands because of unabated development, is “very critical” to food security.
The economist also cited the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) Bill, which seeks to lower the corporate income tax in the country.
“It will lower the corporate tax but will level the playing field in the business sector which hopefully will encourage more investments. Yan inaantay ng karamihan na mga foreign investors (Many foreign investors are waiting for that),” he said.
Apart from economic reform measures, del Castillo also expressed hope that pending bills meant to address problems in traffic and transportation would be passed.
“We’re excited that hopefully, these will be passed. It’s not really that bad that you have a very cooperative Senate and House of Representatives which happens in any developed country. And remember these are elected by the people, fair and square. Ang masama (What is bad is) if there are abuses,” he added.
For her part, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon cited reforms, particularly the amendments to the Public Service Act, to bring down operating costs, especially of telecommunication companies.
Edillon also underscored the need to amend the Foreign Investment Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act to attract foreign investments into the country and create jobs.
“It’s really about expanding the economic opportunities,” she said in a separate interview.
Edillon said the NEDA Bill is also imperative in providing coherence in economic planning within all government agencies up to provincial planners.
Two separate bills expanding and strengthening the powers of NEDA are pending in both houses of Congress.
Socioeconomic Planning secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said “the enactment of this proposed legislation will give NEDA the teeth and strategic vision in planning and implementing reform initiatives that will be sustained beyond an administration’s term.”
“At its core, the measure seeks to address fragmented, uncoordinated, and even often interrupted planning, policy-making, programming, and budgeting process of the government. There will be continuity of plans, programs, and policies that should outlive a President’s term for them to become effective,” he added. (PNA)