Businessmen want SONA to spell out plan to attract foreign investments
Businessmen would rather hear President Benigno Aquino III’s future plans during Monday’s State of the Nation Address rather than his past achievements.
"What is more important for us businessmen is a more stable and predictable macroeconomic fundamentals. We want a clear-cut policy direction aimed at attracting more FDIs (foreign direct investments)," said Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Miguel Varela over the weekend.
The PCCI is one of the largest business organizations in the country.
He added that the President should roll out plans on how to make Philippine power rates competitive with the rest of the region, as it is currently one of the most expensive in Asia and businessmen consider it one of the deterrents to foreign investors.
He also said the government should find ways to arrest peso appreciation as it does not bode well for exporters.
"The President should consider some of the recommendations of the PCCI on peso appreciation, like having a moratorium on foreign borrowings because every time we borrow, the peso appreciates," he said, adding that one of the solutions would be to make peso borrowings instead.
But Varela said the President should continue existing policies that are better for the economy "because we believe he knows what are the problems and needs of the business sector."
Varela and PCCI chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis are both supportive of the recently-announced government policy on mining. Furthermore, they believe that the President should persuade Congress to expedite the passage of a mining bill detailing the government's share in resource contracts.
Ortiz-Luis, for his part, said he also expects the President to announce an increase in the budget allocations of the Departments of Trade and Industry and Department of Science and Technology. He believes these agencies are responsible for producing jobs in the country.
Ortiz-Luis added that he also anticipates the President to announce more public works projects in the pipeline.
"These are not necessarily under PPPs (public-private partnerships), but public works including ports, roads, particularly international airports so that we can attract more foreign tourists here," he said.
The two PCCI officials have a common view on how to address the ongoing territorial dispute between Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
"The President should pursue the diplomatic resolution of this issue. We can still use the ASEAN forum to do this," Varela said.
Ortiz-Luis added that continuous and improved communication with the Chinese would be the key to end the territorial squabble.
Meanwhile, Astro del Castillo, managing director of brokerage firm First Grade Finance Inc., said that stock traders are expecting the President to confirm "if we are really moving forward."
"We hope to hear that one of his priorities would be the new mining policy which was recently announced. I hope the SONA speech will be inspiring," he said. — DVM, GMA News
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