Investors: More must be done as Phl takes off

February 27, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – Despite progress on most recommendations of foreign businessmen for the economy to accelerate and attract investments, the government will have to undertake more reforms in the agriculture and mining sectors to spur growth and create jobs.

Speaking at the Arangkada Philippines Forum yesterday, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines senior advisor John Forbes said while the country has made gains, it still faces challenges and will need to implement more reforms to attract investments that can help generate employment.

“Minimum wage is higher than in competing economies. They have lower wages, fewer holidays and power subsidy, so businesses cannot afford to stay in the Philippines. The answer is to make the Philippines competitive,” he said.

Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines president Ian Porter said the government will need to institute reforms in agribusiness and mining, sectors crying for improvement.

He said based on the third year assessment of government actions on 462 recommendations put forward by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), 73 percent have been positive or are active and moving in 2013, compared to 64.59 percent in 2012.

In contrast, 26.97 percent of the recommendations were considered dormant or in regression in the past year compared to 35.41 percent in 2012.

The recommendations made by the JFC are listed in the Arangkada Philippines report launched in 2010.

The proposals are intended to make the economy move twice as fast through the creation of $75 billion in new foreign investments, 10 million jobs and over P1 trillion in revenue within the decade.

The recommendations cover seven sectors such as agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries, infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics, mining, tourism, medical travel and retirement.

Forbes said that “agribusiness is a very important area for the Philippines internally, socially, politically and for employment. It is a crucial area,” he said.

With about 30 million people depending on agriculture for their livelihood, undertaking reforms and providing government support will help those employed in the sector become more productive and get higher income.

Mining is also seen to support economic growth and create employment, as mining firms would have to build infrastructure such as roads and generate power before the start of their operations.

“The Philippines has great opportunity to create responsible mining which would create thousands of jobs and add two percent of GDP (gross domestic product) over the next years,” he said.

Decisions have to be made, particularly in the revenue-sharing scheme from mining operations.

For his part, former finance secretary Roberto de Ocampo said the government will also need to invest more in infrastructure and consider making amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI).

“More FDI will bring about the job creation we are all looking for in this Arangkada forum, with it middle class (growth) and inclusive growth,” he said.


By Louella Desiderio
February 27, 2014 
The Philippine Star
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