Saturday, August 30, 2014

Citizen Watch 2: On Power and Jobs

* Reposting this from Business Mirror.

27 Aug 2014  Written by David Cagahastian

CIVIL-SOCIETY group Citizenwatch has proposed several action plans that the Aquino administration should focus on in its last two years in office, particularly in the areas of power generation and promotion of medium-scale enterprises to create more jobs.

In a recent roundtable discussion among the conveners of Citizenwatch, the need to lower the costs of power and to provide for a reliable source of power for industries was underscored as one of the most important problems that must be addressed by the government.

Prof. Dindo Manhit, who convened the roundtable discussion, enumerated possible action plans that can address the looming power crisis.

Free trade advocate Nonoy Oplas of Minimal Government Thinkers Inc. said that the government must reduce red tape to be able to make the Philippines competitive, especially in light of the upcoming integration of the ten members of the Asean. He said that reducing red tape would help in addressing many of the country’s problems, including the power crisis.

“In energy for instance, I think [Energy] Secretary Jericho Petilla said that feasibility studies show that building a power plant will require about 100 signatures from the barangay to the Department of Energy, etc. In this case, more government is a problem,” Oplas said.

The coming financial integration of the 10 Asean members was also discussed, with focus on providing for financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as a program that will make Philippine industries competitive with its counterparts in other Asean countries.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation said that the financing of MSMEs is critical to the Philippines because these types of enterprises comprise 99 percent of our entire economy.

“One of the disadvantages of our local industries is financing. We are the only ones still talking about it whereas our neighbors have already resolved the issue of financing for MSMEs,” Ortiz-Luis said.

Alfredo Yao, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also provided his suggestions on how to make the country competitive amid the Asean integration. He said that the government needs to address the concerns on power, infrastructure and red tape to be able to attract more foreign investments when the Asean integration starts in 2015.

“In the several forums that we have conducted, the high cost of power and logistics, inadequate transport infrastructure, conflicting laws and regulations, issues related to taxation, business permits and licensing, and access of SMEs to financing and technology were the most common concerns raised that beset the private sector’s readiness for and competitiveness under AEC [Asean Economic Community],” Yao said.

“There is a need for the government and private sector to heed the adoption of an industrial road map for Philippine industries to be able to compete with the forthcoming Asean integration. This should mainstream the enhancement of a competitive business environment, where SMEs are able to participate effectively and benefit from the global production network being built by Asean with its trade partners and important export markets,” he added.

Citizenwatch is an independent network of professionals, which advocates for the interests of not just the less privileged sector, but also of society as a whole whose mission is to stand up against powerful interests whenever they curtail the citizens’ right to health, safety, financial security and right to fully participate in democratic society.

See also:
Stratbase Forum on ASEAN Competitiveness, July 25, 2014
Free Trade 36: Taxation, Regulations, Trade and Rule of Law in ASEAN, August 05, 2014

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