EconomyEditor's PickPresidential bet vows to ease regulation of private corporations

October 31, 2021

A PRESIDENTIAL aspirant has pledged to ease private sector regulation if he wins the elections next year, saying the government should treat companies as partners rather than opponents.

“Overregulation, when it goes beyond our competition policy, has no place in modern and civilized society especially at a time when we need to encourage foreign investments and attract more capital inflow in the Philippines,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson told an online forum at the weekend.

“It is time for the government to really treat the business sector as partners in progress instead of competitors,” he added.

Mr. Lacson said he would push the recovery of small and medium enterprises, which account for more than 99% of registered businesses in the country and provide more than 60% of total jobs, through fiscal stimulus packages.

“We need to implement eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and employee-retention tax credits to motivate businesses to reopen,” he added.

Mr. Lacson said he seeks to put 100% of the country’s irrigable lands to use, unlike now when fewer than two-thirds of the Philippines’ irrigable lands have been used.

“A major part of my agenda for the agriculture sector is the completion of our long-time lags in providing effective and sustainable irrigation systems to 100% of our irrigable lands in the country,” he said.

He promised to free farmers and fisherfolk from the “grip and control of middlemen and traders” who now dictate market prices.

“This approach can provide alternatives to lower our reliance on importation of agriculture products. It is high time that we veer away from the import-dependent mentality,” the lawmaker said.

Mr. Lacson also pushed digitizing the country to improve governmental and business processes, adding that this would “minimize, if not totally eliminate corruption in government.”

Meanwhile, Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo said she would focus on rural development if she becomes the next Philippine president.

“Our infrastructure should spur rural development because development right now is so concentrated in Metro Manila,” she told reporters in Filipino in Sorsogon City on Friday, based on a transcript e-mailed by her office.

She vowed to invest more in farm-to-market roads, cold storage facilities, solar dryers, fish cages and other infrastructure projects.

She also pledged to continue President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, while ensuring that projects would directly benefit ordinary Filipinos.

Ms. Robredo, who has criticized the President for belittling the country’s traffic woes, said she would also solve the country’s mass transportation problem.

Fitch Solutions earlier said Mr. Duterte’s key policies such as his infrastructure program would likely be continued by his predecessor.

Analysts earlier said foreign investors are likely to stay cautious during the Philippine election season to gauge policies that will be prioritized by the next government.

FDI inflows sank to a five-year low of $6.542 billion last year, when the world was forced to deal with the pandemic. Inflows have improved in recent months from their levels a year earlier.

July inflows climbed by 52% to $1.263 billion from a year earlier. This brought the seven-month level to $5.562 billion, 43.1% higher than a year ago.

Some analysts said investors would be keen on policies that would boost the capacity of the country’s health system and its ability to deal with future health crises.

Other key considerations will be policies on restructuring the economic and business environments during the so-called new normal.

Foreign investors would also watch the stance of presidential candidates on human rights issues because political instability could hurt economic growth, political analysts said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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