Belmonte backs economic reforms to boost trade and competitiveness

SPEAKER Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., assured foreign and local business leaders of the firm resolve of government to meet the challenges needed to catalyze national development by forging responsive laws and
policies through enhanced private sector participation and consensus-building.

“Policies are always forged in the fiery furnace of debate and consensus,” Belmonte told the leaders and representatives of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce and Philippine Business Groups in a dialogue held at the Andaya Hall of the Batasan complex.

The two-hour consultation meeting, also attended by Deputy Speakers Arnulfo Fuentebella and Lorenzo Tañada III and the chairmen of the various House Committees, allowed an open exchange of ideas on the concerns of the local and foreign business communities led by Mr. Hubert D’Aboville, President of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.

On the part of the House, Belmonte identified, among others, three major areas of reforms that need to be addressed: (1) Raising national competitiveness and leveling business playing field; (2) undertaking needed fiscal reforms and increasing government efficiency; and (3) achieving much wider rural development.

Although the business community presented 41 proposed legislative areas of concern, the actual open forum focused on ten topics of interest which were doable and of common urgent concerns.

These areas include: (1) Data Privacy and the creation of the Department of Information and Communication Technology; (2 Foreign Professionals Omnibus Amendment and Retail Trade Act amendment; (3) Amendments to the BOT Law; (4) amendments to the Clean Air Act; (5) amendments to the Mining Act; (6) Common Carriers Tax, Gross Philippine Billings; (7)  Anti-Trust; (8)Customs and Tariff Modernization Act; (9) Rationalization of fiscal Incentives; and (10) Tax Sector Neutrality Act.

To sustain the nation’s growth momentum, Belmonte said, there is need to reduce the cost of doing business, foster infrastructure development, and institute improved regulatory frameworks.

“We have lagged behind our neighboring Asian countries in various competitiveness indices, notably in infrastructure.  To reverse this trend, the government shall maximize private sector participation in the supply of infrastructure,” he said.

The House leader noted that most of the proposed reform areas presented by the business sector are similar to the emerging priorities of the National leadership and that of Congress, Belmonte urged for regular dialogue between government and the private sector.

“We will continue to explore all possible avenues for greater cooperation and consensus between business and the state to facilitate a better investment climate and a more competitive economy,” Belmonte stressed.

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