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MAP unveils policy wishlist for Marcos administration

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has urged the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to implement a number of policies, including fiscal measures to improve tax collection.

The policy recommendations cover education; quality health care; the agriculture and agribusiness sector; trade and industry policy; infrastructure adequacy; labor market and employment policies; fiscal and financial policies; and justice and the rule of law.

“As the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the deep contraction it brought to our economy, policy, and program support and public investments must prioritize the country’s two most important but also most challenged assets: its people and its lands,” said the organization, whose immediate past president, Alfredo Pascual, is currently Marcos' trade secretary.

In terms of education, the MAP called for the resumption of face-to-face classes in non-high-risk areas, and the prioritization of budgetary support for connectivity across local schools in the 2023 budget.

The National Economic and Development Authority in March said that opening all schools across the country for in-person learning would boost economic activity by P12 billion weekly.

The MAP also asked the new administration to overhaul the leadership of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., to scale up feeding programs, and to establish a council for job creation, social protection, and public health.

The MAP urged farm consolidation, the strengthening of food systems for food security, and structural, functional, and budgetary reform in the bureaucracy.

Marcos, who is also the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, said earlier this week that a food crisis is expected in the next two quarters and advocated for the Masagana 150 and Masagana 200 programs, both of which aim to increase rice production.

The MAP also recommended the immediate ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the establishment of a new Philippine Export Development Plan, and the update of industry roadmaps.

After winning the May 9 presidential election, Marcos stated that he wanted to examine how the RCEP will affect the nation's agricultural sector since, in his view, the industry should be competitive before the country enters into another trade deal.

For infrastructure, the MAP urged the Marcos administration to actively pursue public-private partnerships and revisit the Build-Operate-Transfer Law.

The MAP likewise recommended the institutionalization of labor flexibility, flexible employment arrangements, and the amendment of the Apprenticeship Law.

For fiscal and financial policies, the MAP called for the completion of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which was pushed by the economic team of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Institute measures to improve tax collection efficiency, curb tax evasion, and eliminate unwarranted tax exemptions,” the recommendation said.

Former officials of the Department of Finance and Bureau of Internal Revenue have earlier maintained that they are keen on collecting all taxes, in response to reports claiming that the heirs of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. could not be compelled to pay an estimated P203 billion in estate taxes.

A spokesperson for then presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos, however, said that the ownership of the properties subject to estate taxes had yet to be settled.

The MAP also urged the administration to uphold justice and the rule of law, promote transparency, have zero tolerance for corruption, and restore faith in institutions.

“Aggressively pursue and swiftly decide on cases against officials and associates accused of corrupt practices (e.g. PhilHealth, Pharmally), with utmost adherence to the principles of justice and fairness while on trial or under investigation,” it said. —VBL, GMA News